37.4.6  Prevention and alleviation of disability due to lymphatic filariasis

The methods described here are also used to reduce the swelling due to podoconiosis (non-infectious elephantiasis, Study Session 39).

Patients with lymphoedema and thickened skin folds (for example, as in Figure 37.21) can be empowered to manage their symptoms and reduce their discomfort and pain through simple, but rigorous, hygiene techniques. You should educate them to wash the affected parts carefully every day, especially between the folds of thickened skin, and gently dry the area with a clean cloth. They should elevate (raise) swollen legs as much as possible whatever they are doing during the day and raise the foot of the bed or sleeping mat at night (Figure 37.22). Advise the patient to exercise the limbs any time and anywhere, as often as possible, to help the fluid to exit from their swollen limbs.

Washing affected limbs and elevating them
Figure 37.22  Washing the affected limbs and elevating them while working or sleeping helps to alleviate the pain and swelling due to lymphatic filariasis. (Diagrams: WHO, 2003, Community Home-Based Prevention of Disability due to Lymphatic Filariasis)

In the next study session, you will learn about two more diseases of public health importance in Ethiopia – rabies and taeniasis (tapeworm disease) – which are spread to humans by warm-blooded animals (dogs and cattle).

37.4.5  Prevention and control of lymphatic filariasis

Summary of Study Session 37