Diseases & Conditions


A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Elephantiasis


Synonyms of Elephantiasis
  • Idiopathic Elephantiasis

Disorder Subdivisions



    General Discussion
    Elephantiasis is a condition characterized by gross enlargement of an area of the body, especially the limbs. Other areas commonly affected include the external genitals. Elephantiasis is caused by obstruction of the lymphatic system, which results in the accumulation of a fluid called lymph in the affected areas.

    Functioning as part of the immune system, the lymphatic system helps to protect the body against infection and disease. It consists of a network of tubular channels (lymph vessels) that drain a thin watery fluid known as lymph from different areas of the body into the bloodstream. Obstruction of these vessels results in the massive swelling and gross enlargement characteristic of elephantiasis.

    In areas where filariasis is endemic, the most common cause of elephantiasis is a parasitic disease known as lymphatic filariasis and, in the medical literature, the terms lymphatic filariasis and elephantiasis may be used interchangeably. Elephantiasis due to lymphatic filariasis may also be referred to as true elephantiasis. In most areas, the lymphatic damage associated with elephantiasis has other causes including certain sexually transmitted diseases (e.g., lymphogranuloma venereum); tuberculosis; an infectious disease called leishmaniasis; repeated streptococcal infections; leprosy; and environmental factors such as exposure to certain minerals (e.g., silica). In some cases, no cause can be identified (idiopathic).

    Recently a team of researchers funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), one of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has recently revealed the genetic secrets of one of these parasites. The researchers report solving the complete genome of Brugia malayi, one of the worms that causes the often debilitating disease elephantiasis.

    Organizations related to Elephantiasis
    • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
      1600 Clifton Road NE
      Atlanta GA 30333
      Phone #: 404-639-3534
      800 #: 800-311-3435
      e-mail: http://www.cdc.gov/netinfo.htm
      Home page: http://www.cdc.gov/
    • Lymphatic Research Foundation
      100 Forest Avenue
      East Hills NY 11548
      Phone #: 516-625-9675
      800 #: --
      e-mail: lrf@lymphaticresearch.org
      Home page: http://www.lymphaticresearch.org
    • NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
      6610 Rockledge Drive
      Bethesda MD 20892-6612
      Phone #: 301-496-5717
      800 #: --
      e-mail: N/A
      Home page: http://www.niaid.nih.gov/
    • National Lymphedema Network
      Latham Square Building
      Oakland CA 94612-2138
      Phone #: 510-208-3200
      800 #: 800-541-3259
      e-mail: nln@lymphnet.org
      Home page: http://www.lymphnet.org
    • World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for the Americas (AMRO)
      Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)
      Washington DC 20037
      Phone #: 202-974-3000
      800 #: --
      e-mail: postmaster@paho.org
      Home page: http://www.who.ch/



    For a Complete Report

    This is an abstract of a report from the National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc. ? (NORD). A copy of the complete report can be obtained for a small fee by visiting the NORD website. The complete report contains additional information including symptoms, causes, affected population, related disorders, standard and investigational treatments (if available), and references from medical literature. For a full-text version of this topic, see http://www.rarediseases.org/search/rdblist.html