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Elephantiasis (lymphatic filariasis)


What is Elephantiasis?

Elephantiasis – also known as lymphatic filariasis – is a disease that affects people in Asia, Africa, the Western Pacific and parts of the Caribbean and South America. Elephantiasis  is a mosquito-transmitted disease that is caused by parasitic worms and which damages the human lymph system.

The disease can cause severe and extensive swelling of the lower limbs (lymphedema), which can be accompanied by painful episodes of fever. People with lymphedema are prone to bacterial infections that can lead to a mobility-limiting condition where the skin thickens and hardens. In men, elephantiasis can also result in the swelling of the scrotum (hydrocele).

Elephantiasis affects the poorest communities, preventing individuals from living a productive working and social life, further trapping them in the cycle of poverty.

WHO road map target:

Elimination as a public health problem by 2030

Tafadzwa Banda is from the Shamva District in Bindura in Zimbabwe. She shared her story of how living with lymphatic filariasis changed her life.

Key stats

  • 36 million

    people are estimated to live with a chronic condition

  • Around 790 million

    people were at risk of infection in 2022

Status of elimination of elephantiasis as a public health issue, 2023

People receiving preventive chemotherapy for elephantiasis, 2022

Since the London Declaration was signed in 2012 and partners committed to defeating neglected tropical diseases, the number of people receiving preventive chemotherapy for elephantiasis has increased.

Coalition partners

Global Alliance to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis (GAELF)

The Global Alliance to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis brings together a diverse group of public-private health partners to support the Global Programme to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis by mobilising political, financial and technical resources to ensure success.

Global Alliance to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis (GAELF)