The Elephant Man Disease is a condition that is caused by a misshapen, soft-tissue infection in the tissues of the lower leg. Commonly referred to as elephant’s foot, this infection affects the nerves and fluid that lines the base of the toes. The infection results from a bacterial or fungal infection of the tissue around the toe. This condition was once known as “the scratchy disease,” after those afflicted by it often described the pain as resembling a scratchy fingernail. The name was later changed to “the elephant man disease” due to a large number of reports of the condition occurring on elephants.
Who gets Elephant Man Disease Most Common?
The condition occurs most commonly in both humans and animals and the risk for acquiring it is higher than with other common infections such as HIV/AIDS or toxoplasmosis. There is no current treatment for the disease. The most common cause of the syndrome is a genetic mutation of a part of the X chromosome called the vertebral, pelvic area syndrome. This occurs more frequently in people with ancestry from Northern Europe and parts of Asia. About half of those affected by the syndrome have no family history of neurological disorders.
There are two main areas of research focusing on the elephant man disease; medical studies and epidemiological studies on the prevalence of the syndrome among affected family members. One method of testing for the condition is through a test known as polydipsia, which detects antibodies to the X-linked nf1 virus. Although this test has been successful in detecting the infection, it has been unable to detect other disease agents such as neurologic disorders, tumors, or polyps. If a patient tests positive for the nf1 virus but no other disease pathogens are detected, biopsies taken from a single eardrum will usually provide enough evidence to make a positive identification.
Methods Used in Diagnosis for Elephant Man Disease
Other methods used in diagnosis include performing immunohistochemical analysis, which detects antibody activity specific to the illness, and typing polymerase chain reactions, which look for similarities between DNA sequences. Because there is currently no treatment for the syndrome, it is important to know if family members can be successfully treated for the condition. It appears that family members with the illness might develop a similar illness later in life if a similar autoimmune disorder is present. Thus, doctors will test members of the family for similar diseases and attempt to treat the underlying infection in cases of familial amnesia. In cases where members of the family have acquired the syndrome after other neurological disorders, doctors can conduct immunocompromised treatments or genetic engineering to correct the mutation.
Many medical journals have reported stories of families experiencing symptoms of elephant man syndrome who, after consulting doctors, have learned that they are likely carriers of the nf1 virus. Because the syndrome is transmitted through close physical contact, those members most at risk are those closest to the infected person – usually the younger child or infants, whose immune systems are weaker and who might not be able to fight off the disease on their own. As a result, the disease is often reported in cases where infants die suddenly and unexpectedly from causes unrelated to Lupus.
In a July issue of The Journal of the American Medical Associations, researchers reported that a woman with a history of herpes infection in her younger days developed intergenerational transmission of the virus, consistent with a model of proteus syndrome. In addition, recent laboratory studies indicated that antibodies to the Nf1 virus were also detected in a man with Lupus who was not initially infected with the disease. These studies concluded that the antibodies resulted from genetic material specific to the Nf1 strain of Lupus. Although these diagnostic criteria are relatively vague, the syndrome appears to be associated with a common genetic cause, possibly Nf1-tropical fever-type II.