E = Elephantiasis (A-Z Challenge)

(Reader’s Note: After the slightest bit of research I have decided to include one picture of the actual symptoms, and that is relatively mild and at the very bottom of this entry. You are welcome.)

Also known as elephantitis, this is a disease which will either have no symptoms or will result in “large amounts of swelling of the arms, legs, or genitals.” This isn’t a chubby limb from water retention or the result of a male enhancement pill that really works, this looks like the batman villain, Clayface.

Only in real life.

Only in real life.

This disease is actually caused by parasites, usually spread through the bites of a mosquito. As if we need more reason to hate them, right? Malaria, West Nile Virus, Dog Heartworm, and Puffy Nutsack/Tree Trunk Limb. If one believes in the Noah’s Ark business, one would have to wonder what the mosquitos were brought aboard for. Bird food? If so, it got out of control and we need Terror Bird on the case.

The real skull of a prehistoric Terror Bird. No, I wasn't making that shit up.

The real skull of a prehistoric Terror Bird. No, I wasn’t making that shit up.

Anyway, the parasites inserted by these flying douchebags of doom are usually worms which damage the lymphatic system. Prevention is a pain in the ass. They have to treat an entire goddamned group of susceptible people every year for about six years. This doesn’t kill the adult worms. That would be too easy. No, it just stops the worms from growing bigger until the worms die on their own. I’m not sure what happens after that — does it just stop getting bigger? So, if your arm already looks like sixteen hams are stapled to your sleeve, it just doesn’t add a seventeenth and eighteenth? I suppose that’s good, but…

At the same time, the trademark swelling of everything is like some cruel concoction of Mother Nature’s anger. It’s not just fat worms burrowing in the flesh that make it bulge out and fold over like the elephant’s skin it is presumably named after. It takes several factors to make this happen. It’s a stunningly complex interaction of the worm, symbiotic bacteria inside the foul worm, the poor person’s immune system (trying to get that evil shit out, I imagine), and the fun of infections which normally follow some poor infested bastard. This causes swelling, and not swelling as in, “Oh, I got a tiny cut and it’s swollen.” No, this is like, “Someone poured fifty pounds of liquid wax into a trash bag and stuck it to my leg, arm, and testicles.”

Incidentally, the only surgery available works only on the testicular form of elephantiasis. If you have it on your arms, hands, or legs, you pretty much are stuck with a puffy Clayface arm forever. This unfortunate horror mainly affects people in Africa and Asia, and there are great steps to fighting it. Some antibiotics will kill the aforementioned bacteria in the worm and health authorities are expecting to have a vaccine by 2020.

It is a sad, unfortunate condition whose perfect storm of causes make it seem like Mother Nature is seriously pissed off and is in need of a vacation. If you are easily grossed out, do not Google this disease. If you have a tender heart, likewise avoid looking it up. If you are male and care about your testicles, looking at pictures of some of the guys with this disease will make yours cry out in pain. Below is a very mild picture found on Wikipedia of a portrait done of a woman with leg elephantiasis.


Alternate letter considerations: Elizabeth I…and that’s about it. I immediately knew I wanted to go for the gross out factor here. I think I’m going to stay away from diseases for a while with this blog challenge…or not. I really don’t know. When your brain really is a fountain of randomness, you never know what’s going to come out.


~ by Darren Endymion on May 6, 2014.

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