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.

36 million people are estimated to live with a chronic condition 883 million people were at risk of infection in 2021
Source: WHO data 2020

Countries that have eliminated elephantiasis

17 countries have eliminated elephantiasis since 2012:

  • Maldives (2016)
  • Sri Lanka (2016)
  • Cambodia (2016)
  • Cook Islands (2016)
  • Niue (2016)
  • Vanuatu (2016)
  • Marshall Islands (2017)
  • Togo (2017)
  • Tonga (2017)
  • Thailand (2017)
  • Egypt (2018)
  • Palau (2018)
  • Vietnam (2018)
  • Wallis & Futuna (2018)
  • Yemen (2019)
  • Kiribati (2019)
  • Malawi (2020)

Mass drug administration progress for elephantiasis


People receiving preventive chemotherapy for elephantiasis

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 considerably.

Data is provided by the World Health Organization