LF: Lack of sex, role reversal and social stigma

That’s what sufferers of lymphatic filariasis go through every day.

A recent review looked at all of the research into the experiences of people living with  lymphatic filariasis (LF), or elephantiasis, and analysed the complexities of daily life faced by people living with LF-related disability.

LF is caused by infectious nematode-carrying mosquitoes biting a person, depositing parasites on the skin which get inside the body, grow and spread into part of the immune system called lymph tissue.

WHO defines disability in general as “a complex phenomenon, reflecting an interaction between features of a person’s body and features of the society in which he or she lives”, as it is a result of the disease and impairment themselves, but also disruptions caused to lifestyle and standard of living.

120 million people worldwide live with the burden of LF,  40 million of whom live with chronic disabling effects as a result of this parasitic disease, according to WHO.

WHO regards LF as the leading cause of physical disability in the world.

Researchers reporting in the journal PLOS Neglected Diseases reviewed qualitative data from the sufferers themselves and this is what they found.

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Dengue in Indonesia, from the perspective of a Western sufferer

Dom Rowland emerged from the Indonesian jungle in mid-September this year. The expedition he was with, BRINCC, charted the course of the Barito river on the island of Borneo. They spent six months removed from civilization, recording the flora and fauna of the forests – they even discovered a new species of butterfly. But at the end of the expedition, about three days after leaving the jungle, one of the team, Andrea, fell ill.Barito river, Borneo by GothPhil/Flickr Continue reading

GM mosquitoes to fight dengue

They transmit disease to more than 700 million people and account for least 2 million deaths annually. The control of mosquitoes just got personal.

Mosquitoes have been responsible for more deaths worldwide than any other animal. They are the sole carriers of malaria, yellow fever, dengue fever, elephantiasis (lymphatic filiriasis) and chikungunya. There is no vaccine for any of these diseases.

For any disease, prevention is preferable to treatment. Vaccines for dengue and malaria are being developed but could be many years away. Effective mosquito control would decrease the burden of disease significantly and scientists have made huge advances in recent years.

Studies from Oxitec Ltd., a biotech company from Oxfordshire, have focussed on controlling the mosquito populations by genetically modifying the insects. Tactics to protect people in endemic areas include stopping mosquito bites using insecticides, net and repellents, developing preventative drugs and eradicating insects.

Diagram of how GM mosquitoes work

Breaking the cycle: how the process of releasing GM mosquitoes works

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