Elephantiasis, also known as lymphatic filariasis, is a disease characterized by the thickening of the skin and underlying tissues, especially in the legs and male genitals. It can lead to severe swelling and disability. The condition is caused by parasitic worms, including Wuchereria bancrofti, Brugia malayi, and Brugia timori, all of which are transmitted to humans through the bites of infected mosquitoes.

The lifecycle of these parasites involves two hosts: humans and mosquitoes. When a mosquito carrying the larval form of the parasite bites a person, the larvae are transferred to the human’s bloodstream, where they mature into adult worms. These worms live in the human lymphatic system, which is an important part of the immune system and helps maintain the body’s fluid balance.

The worms can cause damage and blockages in the lymphatic system, preventing it from draining fluid properly. This leads to lymphedema, where fluid accumulates and causes swelling. Over time, this can lead to the severe and disfiguring swelling seen in elephantiasis.

Treatment involves medications to kill the worms, managing symptoms, and sometimes surgery to remove excess tissue. Preventative measures include mosquito control and mass drug administrations to reduce the spread of the parasite.

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