Lymphatic filariasis (LF), a mosquito-borne parasitic disease caused by Wuchereria bancrofti and Brugia species is one of the most prevalent and yet the most neglected of the tropical diseases with serious economic and social consequences (Remme et al. 1993). It is a disease affecting people in rural areas as well as an increasing number of people living in urban slums. Over 128 million people world-wide are infected and another 1.2 billion are at risk of infection. India's 1 billion population live in known endemic areas and 48 million are infected accounting for 40% of the global LF burden (Boakye et al. 2007, Ramaiah 2008) with an estimated 4,918,000 disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) (WHO 1999). This disease has been identified as one of the six diseases considered eradicable or potentially eradicable (WHO 1992). However, its successful control like that of many other infectious diseases depends to a great extent on community-wide understanding of and support for such global initiatives (Evans et al. 1993).
LF is characterised by a spectrum of clinical manifestations that affects the work output of its victims and subject them to hardships such as teasing, unsuitability for marriage, sexual dysfunction and divorce. Single dose Mass Drug Administration (MDA) of Diethylcarbamazine (DEC) has emerged as a savior to combat the disease and has shown some illuminating results albeit equivocal lowering of the disease prevalence is still debatable. The microfilaraemic individuals, serving as carriers of the disease needs special attention and require a thorough and proper screening of the population. Age and sex specific prevalence data of endemic areas is always important for the re-assessment of operational strategies of the global initiatives.
There is an urgent need to conducted an epidemiological survey in endemic region with the aim:
(i) To effectively survey the unreached population (those who are not exposed to the MDA programme) thereby enhancing the efforts of GPELF and
(ii) To create social awareness about the disease and its treatment through interaction with various communities of the urban slum/rural areas.
This study may attempts to alarm present situation and hence can contribute effectively in global elimination of LF.
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I am working as Research Associate in National Institute of Immunology, New Delhi