The Integrated Provincial Health Office in South Cotabato in the southern Philippines report intensifying surveillance and case-finding activities against filariasis to keep the province free from the mosquito-borne parasitic disease.
The remote barangays (villages) of Maan and Mongocayo in Tboli town have recorded confirmed cases in the past several years and in 2021, 33 cases of lymphatic filariasis, also known as elephantiasis have been recorded.
The sanitary inspector of the Integrated Provincial Health Office, Jose Barroquillo Jr. said, “We conduct regular surveillance and case finding activities in these areas to immediately detect possibly new infections and ensure the proper treatment of the patients”.
The detected cases received immediate treatment and medication with the recommended anti-parasitic drugs.
The Province of South Cotabato was declared filariasis-free in November 2017 after the area recorded a nearly zero prevalence rate in a five-year period. Barroquillo said the current cases have not affected the province’s filariasis-free status as it is still below 1 percent of its population.
Lymphatic filariasis is a mosquito-borne, parasitic disease that can affect the lymphatic system and lead to abnormal enlargement of body parts (lymphedema (tissue swelling) or elephantiasis (skin/tissue thickening) of the limbs and, in men, hydrocele (scrotal swelling). It can cause pain and lead to permanent disfigurement and severe disability, often resulting in people losing their livelihood and suffering from stigma, anxiety and depression.