Filariasis - Encyclopedia




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Medical warning!
This article is from the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica. Medical science has made many leaps forward since it has been written. This is not a site for medical advice, when you need information on a medical condition, consult a professional instead.

FILARIASIS, the name of a disease due to the nematode Filaria sanguinis horinis. A milky appearance of the urine, due to the presence of a substance like chyle, which forms a clot, had been observed from time to time, especially in tropical and subtropical countries; and it was proved by Dr Wucherer of Bahia, and by Dr Timothy Lewis, that this peculiar condition is uniformly associated with the presence in the blood of minute eel-like worms, visible only under the microscope, being the embryo forms of a Filaria (see Nematoda). Sometimes the discharge of lymph takes place at one or more points of the surface of the body, and there is in other cases a condition of naevoid elephantiasis of the scrotum, or lymph-scrotum. More or less of blood may occur along with the chylous fluid in the urine. Both the chyluria and the presence of filariae in the blood are curiously intermittent; it may happen that not a single filaria is to be seen during the daytime, while they swarm in the blood at night, and it has been ingeniously shown by Dr S. Mackenzie that they may be made to disappear if the patient sits up all night, reappearing while he sleeps through the day.

Sir P. Manson proved that mosquitoes imbibe the embryo filariae from the blood of man; and that many of these reach full development within the mosquito, acquiring their freedom when the latter resorts to water, where it dies after depositing its eggs. Mosquitoes would thus be the intermediate host of the filariae, and their introduction into the human body would be through the medium of water (see Parasitic Diseases).

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