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Mother's Leg Swells Up - Now, Officials Are Issuing Serious Warning

A woman has been suffering from a condition that has her immobilized and threatens her life. One of the woman's legs has swelled to a whopping 132 pounds, making her unable to walk or move around. If the condition persists and spreads into her abdomen, it could kill her. Her story is heartbreaking, but she’s only one of more than 100 million people suffering from this debilitating disease.

Rezia Begum, a 40-year-old mother of two from Bangladesh, feels like a burden on her family. 18 years ago, she contracted an illness which is believed to be elephantiasis; however, she has not been able to afford the medical care necessary to confirm or treat the condition. Begum worries about the burden that caring for her has put on her family, and fears for her life.

Elephantiasis is a rare condition that is most often spread by a parasite. It is transmitted by mosquito bites, in which larval worms are brought into the body. Also known as Lymphatic filariasis, the parasite can impair the lymphatic system, which causes a build-up of liquid in usually a limb. This is what results in the growth and deformity of the limb, although it can also affect the genitals.

The affected limb will swell to an enormous size, become misshapen, and a thick, dry skin with bumpy appearance will usually develop over the limb. In advanced stages, the limb can come to look like an elephant's leg, hence the name of the condition.

The World Health Organization notes that the enlarged body part can not only be painful and debilitating, but result in a social stigma. Approximately 120 million people around the world are infected with Elephantiasis. Approximately 40 million of those people are disfigured due to the disease.

Begum believes her condition began at around the time she gave birth to her second child. "I was like any other normal woman but now I'm a burden on my poor family," she told the Daily Mail.

Unfortunately, a diagnosis cannot be confirmed for Begum. She's currently under care at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital in Bangladesh, but until they can get additional tests done, they won't be able to begin treatments. If the infection spreads before they begin treatment, it could become difficult for Ms. Begum to urinate. If it reaches her abdomen, Begum could die.

Elephantiasis is a chronic illness that patients will have to struggle with for life, however, recent breakthroughs have shown promise in treating the condition. Mass deworming treatments on populations at risk can usually break the cycle and prevent the disease from spreading. Surgery can help with some forms of the disease, and antibiotics have shown promise in treating flair-ups.

The disease is considered to have good potential to be eradicated eventually, but since it mostly affects people in impoverished areas around the world, many of them are lacking in medical care.

Source: Daily Mail
Photo: Rehman Asad/Barcroft Images

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