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Loa loa filariasis

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A type of filariasis that is caused by the roundworm Loa loa


Filariasis is a disease associated with the infection of filariae within the definitive host, e.g. human host. The three types of filariasis based on the site of worm infestation are (1) lymphatic filariasis, (2) subcutaneous filariasis, and (3) serous cavity filariasis. In subcutaneous filariasis, the filariasis is caused by parasitic roundworms that occupy the subcutaneous layer of the skin (fat layer). There are three roundworms associated with subcutaneous filariasis. They are Loa loa, Mansonella streptocerca, and Onchocerca volvulus. Loa loa (also known as eye worm) is a nematode from the superfamily of Filaroidea. It is common in Africa and India. Filariasis caused particularly by Loa loa is called loiasis or Loa loa filariasis. The larvae of Loa loa use fly vectors or as intermediate hosts. Examples of these vectors are the deerfly and the mango fly (Chrysops spp.). These insects transmit the worm to a definitive host, e.g. humans, through an insect bite. Within the human host, the larvae develop into adult roundworms. These worms can cause red itchy swellings underneath the skin and cause inflammation. The swelling of the skin due to Loa loa filariasis is referred to as Calabar swellings. The adult worms are capable of migrating, and may end up occupying the subconjunctival tissues of the eye. The worm may not affect the vision but could bring pain to the host when moving the eyeball.

Also called:

  • loiasis
  • loaiasis
  • Calabar swellings
  • tropical swelling
  • fugitive swelling
  • African eyeworm

See also: