What are the treatments for filariasis?
Either ivermectin, albendazole, or diethylcarbamazine is used to treat a filariasis infection by eliminating the larvae, impairing the adult worms’ ability to reproduce, and by actually killing adult worms. Unfortunately, much of the tissue damage may not be reversible. The medication is started at low doses to prevent reactions caused by large numbers of dying parasites. While effective, the medications can cause severe side effects in up to 70% of patients as a result either of the drug itself or the massive death of parasites in the blood. Diethylcarbamazine, for example, can cause severe allergic reactions and the formation of pus-filled sores (abscesses). These side effects can be controlled using antihistamines and anti-inflammatory drugs (corticosteroids). Rarely, treatment with diethylcarbamazine in someone with very high levels of parasite infection may lead to a fatal inflammation of the brain (encephalitis). In this case, the fever is followed by headache and confusion, then