Bizarre Disease: Elephantiasis Turning People To Elephants

Elephantiasis Strange Parasite Turning People To Elephants

Elephantiasis is one of the most bizarre diseases in the world, which turns human limbs into huge deformed elephant-like members. The disease often causes the inflammation of the lower portion of the body, with the shocking result of huge swelling of the feet, almost the size of an elephant’s feet, as it recently happened to a boy from Uganda, who is now called Elephant Boy.
What causes this shocking transformation? Is there any cure? Let’s find out together.

This strange disease causes a lot of pain to those who suffer from it, not only physically, but also emotionally. The transformation from a normal person to an elephant-like “monster” is not easy to anyone.

The bizarre disease is caused by small parasites, either by Wuchereria bancrofti or Brugia malayi. These two parasites are microscopic worms transmitted through mosquito bites, mostly in the tropical regions of the African continent.

Wuchereria bancrofti is a parasitic filarial nematode which causes lymphatic filariasis, elephantiasis

The massive swelling of the lower limbs is caused by a multitude of factors, like the host’s immune response to the presence of the filaria and the opportunistic infections which take advantage of the weakened body. Hence, the right stage is set for the worm to migrate to the lower half of the body, and cause the lymphatic system to stop working properly, hence accumulating lymph in the legs and scrotum or labia. The host looks deformed!

Elephant Boy From Uganda

The most recent case of Elephantiasis is that of Elephant Boy, a ten-year-old child from Uganda who is now fighting for his life since his legs have turned into elephant feet. The poor child is not able to walk or wear normal clothes due to the fact that his feet have become gigantic. But that is not the only problem… He has contracted a flesh-eating bacteria which might kill him if he does not receive medical help.

The child’s parents first noticed that their son’s legs were getting bigger when he was just 18 months old, but due to poverty, they did not go to a clinic. As the years passed, the boy’s legs began to grow even larger in size, to the point where his legs now weigh more than he does, and when put on a scale, it indicates 100 kilograms.

The saddest part about this case is that he can not afford medical help, and the doctors all concurred: the boy suffers from a severe lymphatic obstruction which led to a dislocated hip and broken ankles. Further investigations have shown that Vincent Oketch, the 10-year-old also has necrotising fasciitis, a flesh eating disease which is ultimately fatal.

If he does not special medical help, this boy shall die. Unfortunately, his case is not the only one… most patients suffering from elephantiasis are from Africa, and they all have financial problems.

Have a look at the to see Vincent Oketch and his huge elephant legs!

How do we treat and prevent elephantiasis?

Well, the prevention is quite hard due to the fact that it’s transmitted by mosquitoes, however, worldwide medical efforts have been made, and it’s very likely that by 2020, lymphatic filariasis will have been eliminated.


It depends on the geographical area… What seems to be really effective is rigorous cleaning of the affected areas of the body. The massive swelling is also caused by different skin infections, which stimulate lymphatic production, hence, a more rigorous hygiene will prevent the lymphatic system to work overtime. No vaccine has been developed yet, but it is most likely to appear in the near future.

Have a look below at some more shocking pictures of people suffering from elephantiasis.

[caption id="attachment_38897" align="aligncenter" width="358"] Elephantiasis. Grossly swollen legs in a patient with lymphatic filariasis.[/caption]

Image source

[caption id="attachment_38900" align="aligncenter" width="524"] Man with elephantiasis of the lower regions, picture dating from 1904[/caption]

Image source

And below you can watch some videos about elephantiasis:

Written with love and coolness by on May 20, 2012 in Weird Stuff
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