Lymphatic filariasis in children: clinical features, infection burdens and future prospects for elimination

Parasitology. 2011 Oct;138(12):1559-68. doi: 10.1017/S003118201100117X. Epub 2011 Aug 3.


Lymphatic filariasis (LF), a common parasitic infection in tropical countries, causes lymphoedema of limbs, hydrocele and acute attacks of dermato-lymphangio-adenitis. Recent advances in diagnosis have helped to recognize that LF infection is often acquired in childhood. Newly available diagnostic techniques like sensitive antigen and antibody assays, Doppler ultrasonography and lymphoscintigraphy have helped to understand the subclinical pathology caused by this infection, which was hitherto generally believed to be irreversible. Recent studies indicate that drugs used in the mass drug administration (MDA) programme under GPELF are capable of reversing the sub-clinical lymphatic damage in children and provide benefits other than interruption of transmission. Albendazole and ivermectin used in MDA are effective against soil-transmitted helminthic infections common in children in LF endemic areas. Thus MDA had other 'beyond LF' benefits in treated children including increased appetite, weight gain, greater learning ability and concentration, better school attendance and prevention of anaemia. MDA should no longer be viewed as a measure for interrupting transmission alone. Recent findings of reversibility of early lymphatic pathology in treated children indicate that both MDA and 'foot-hygiene' measures are effective strategies in preventing and managing morbidity. Programme managers should effectively utilize this information to strengthen their advocacy efforts to achieve high and sustainable coverage in MDA.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Albendazole / administration & dosage*
  • Animals
  • Anthelmintics / administration & dosage*
  • Brugia / drug effects*
  • Child
  • Elephantiasis, Filarial / drug therapy*
  • Elephantiasis, Filarial / epidemiology
  • Elephantiasis, Filarial / pathology
  • Elephantiasis, Filarial / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ivermectin / administration & dosage*
  • Male
  • Soil / parasitology
  • Wuchereria bancrofti / drug effects*


  • Anthelmintics
  • Soil
  • Ivermectin
  • Albendazole