A real-life story, living with elephantiasis

This patient is suffering from lymphatic filariasis, or elephantiasis as it is commonly known. It is a disease caused by a parasitic worm, transmitted by mosquitoes.

This disease is affecting her lymphatic system, resulting in severely swollen, painful legs and reduced mobility. She experiences hardening and cracking of the skin, frequent sores and fever. Her natural defences have been severely weakened by the disease.

She is unable to work, and is being shunned by many of her friends and neighbours. She is condemned to a life of pain and poverty.

Her daughter, and her brothers and sisters, are relied upon to care for their mum. When she is old enough, she will need to work to feed the family, because her mother is unable to. She cannot attend school, and she has no opportunity to play with friends.

She is at significant risk of contracting LF like her mother. Another future devastated due to this disease. Without intervention, this family, and millions like them, will be trapped in this cycle of poor health and poverty.

However, through LSTM’s work with the local health ministry, this little girl and her brothers and sisters could receive a course of preventative chemotherapy to stop her becoming infected.

Our development and trials of a new drug to treat the disease have shown significant reduction in the swelling in patients’ limbs. This brings hope that we can not only give the little girl a brighter future, but potentially transform the life of her mother too.

If we get her back into the community and able to work, her children will be able to attend school, and the whole family has a greater chance to prosper.