Elephantiasis can be treated with a low-priced antibiotic, according to scientists.It causes severe swelling in the limbs or scrotum.
A team of scientists at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine found that doxycycline gave some relief to patients in the advanced stages of the disease. In addition, the antibiotic killed the causative worms.
Lymphatic Filariasis (LF) affects nearly 120 million people, usually, in the tropical countries. The society keeps away from people affected by LF.
Parasitic worms entering the lymphatic system of the body cause LF and mosquitoes spread it. Millions of larvae produced by the worms spread throughout the bloodstream by means of the lymphatic system. The treatments available at present kill only the larvae, inhibiting the transmission. However, the adult worm remains unaffected and there is no reduction in symptoms.
Doxycycline was used to treat LF in 51 patients in Ghana. The antibiotic not only killed the worm but also provided relief from symptoms.
Dr. Mark Taylor, from Liverpool, said, "The important breakthrough with this trial is to show that in addition to the anti-parasitic effects of antibiotic treatment, we can also improve the lives of individuals suffering from the stigmatizing elephantiasis."