Filarioidea are a superfamily of threadlike, parasitic worms, with numerous families, genus, and species. Their definitive hosts are vertebrates, but only a few filarial species infect humans. Threadlike adult filarial worms reside in lymphatic or subcutaneous tissues. Gravid females produce live offspring (microfilariae) that circulate in blood or migrate through tissues. When ingested by a suitable bloodsucking insect (mosquitoes or flies), microfilariae develop into infective larvae that are inoculated or deposited in the skin of the next host during the insect bite. Life cycles of all filarial worms are similar except for the site of infection.
The major filarial diseases below can be grouped based on the location of adult worms. (See also Approach to Parasitic Infections Approach to Parasitic Infections Human parasites are organisms that live on or in a person and derive nutrients from that person (its host). There are 3 types of parasites: Single-cell organisms (protozoa, microsporidia) Multicellular... read more .)
Subcutaneous filariasis includes
Lymphatic filariasis includes
Bancroftian and Brugian lymphatic filariasis Bancroftian and Brugian Lymphatic Filariasis Lymphatic filariasis is infection with any of 3 species of Filarioidea. Acute symptoms include fever, lymphadenitis, lymphangitis, epididymitis, and funiculitis (inflammation of the spermatic... read more caused by Wuchereria bancrofti, Brugia malayi, and B. timori
Other types of filariasis include
Mansonellosis Mansonellosis Mansonellosis refers to diseases caused by the filarial nematodes Mansonella perstans, M. ozzardi, and M. streptocerca. Transmission is by biting midges or blackflies. Infections... read more caused by Mansonella perstans, with adult worms in the pleura, pericardium, or peritoneum, M. ozzardi in subcutaneous tissues, and M. streptocerca in the dermis
Dirofilariasis Dirofilariasis Dirofilariasis is a filarial nematode infection with Dirofilaria immitis, the dog heartworm, or other Dirofilaria species, which are transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes... read more caused by Dirofilaria immitis, the dog heartworm, with larvae in lungs or rarely in eyes, brain or testes; larvae do not develop to adult worms in humans
Some specialty laboratories have screening serologic tests for filarial infection (including Wuchereria, Brugia, Onchocerca, and Mansonella infections). The tests are sensitive but cannot identify the specific filarial infection or distinguish active from remote infection. This distinction is less important in symptomatic travelers, but limits the usefulness of the tests in people from endemic areas.