To anyone who has visited poor tropical countries or seen pictures of the disease, the instantly recognizable symptom, which afflicts both men and women, is elephantiasis: legs so swollen that they resemble an elephant's.
But 10 times as common is the symptom that is almost never spoken of: the engorged scrotums, known as male hydrocele (Greek for water bulge). In cities like Léogâne [Hati], more than a quarter of the men are tormented by the condition, their scrotum swelling to the size of a softball, or a basketball in severe cases...
But one great tragedy of lymphatic filariasis is that it is not curable...
120 million people in 80 countries have the worms, but also because of the stigma and secret shame that the affliction causes, particularly in men, turning filariasis into a disease the world hardly knows.
* As numbers of adult worms accumulate in "nest balls," lymph vessels stretch and their fluid cannot drain.
* This creates "elephantiasis" - legs so engorged that they resemble an elephant's.
* But 10 times as common, though it is rarely spoken of, is the disabling swelling of the scrotum.