Filariasis is a parasitic disease spread by blood feeding insects such as black flies and mosquitoes. It is a disabling disease usually acquired in childhood, this infection has the potential to damage the lymphatic system and if left untreated, may cause enlargement of body parts such as hydrocele and lymphedema which is abnormal swelling of the scrotum and swelling in the limbs respectively. Some people may develop chronic cough known as Tropical Pulmonary Eosinophilia; symptoms may include passing of milky white urine (chyluria). However, Filariasis is preventable with the administration of anti-filaria drugs during the annual MDA rounds.
Therefore, in order to fight against Lymphatic Filariasis in the Bidar district of Karnataka, for the first-time mass drug administration is to be undertaken. The Directorate of Health and Family Welfare Services, Government of Karnataka along with district health officials confirmed the news and said that the Triple Drug Therapy will begin from 15th March and will go on till 15th April.
According to Dr. Ravi Kumar, senior regional director, Regional Office for Health and Family Welfare, success of the new triple-drug regimen has already been witnessed in Yadgir and Kalaburagi and that they need media’s support to raise community awareness about the safety and effectiveness of these drugs.
The drugs are not to be administered to children below 2 years, people suffering from serious illnesses and pregnant women. The eligible beneficiaries under IDA, will be administered with a single dose of a combination of Ivermectic, Albendazole and Diethylcarbamazine (DEC).
All preparatory activities including training of drug administrators and supervisors have been carried out in the district. Covid-19 protocols have also been taken care of in order to avoid the transmission while administrating the anti-filaria drugs. Healthcare workers have also been trained to ensure that the drugs are consumed in their presence with the aim of reaching 95% compliance in Bidar. The state is determined to eliminate Filariasis by 2021 and with these MDA rounds and the triple-drug therapy in Bidar, the goal seems achievable says Dr. Ramesh K Kaulgud, Joint director, Directorate of Health and Family Welfare Services.
Karnataka has 9 LF endemic districts with at risk population being 1.8 crore approximately. As of 2020-21 a huge number of lymphoedema and hydrocele cases have been reported in the state. Therefore, to ensure transmission interruption of Filariasis in the district, Bidar will now undertake MDA with novel Triple Drug Therapy. This step has been lauded by various officials and they hope that this round of MDA would enable Bidar to undertake Transmission Assessment Survey to determine if the transmission has reduced below the threshold.
The drug is supposed to have added benefits which include treatment of infections caused by intestinal worms, scabies and lice. It may also help in improving nutrient uptake and the physical and cognitive development of the children. The consumption of the drug may have a few minor side effects like vomiting and fever which is an indication that the drugs are killing the microfilaria that caused the disease