WASHINGTON

AFP

 Bed nets treated with insecticide are a simple and economical way to eradicate filariasis, a mosquito-born tropical disease that threatens 1.4 billion people worldwide, according to research published Wednesday.

The researchers, whose study appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that the nets could reduce the debilitating disease’s transmission to undetectable levels.

Lymphatic filariasis, also known as elephantiasis, is caused by a parasitic worm. More than 120 million people suffer from the disease, which has disfigured or disabled about one-third of its victims.

The study “highlights the importance of integrating this type of intervention as a part of the global strategy to eliminate lymphatic filariasis,” said James Kazura of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, who participated in the research. In 2002, Kazura published a study on drugs used to combat filariasis in five villages in Papua New Guinea over the course of five years.