Lymphatic filariasis, commonly known as elephantiasis, is a neglected tropical disease. Infection occurs when filarial parasites are transmitted to humans through mosquitoes. Infection is usually acquired in childhood causing hidden damage to the lymphatic system.
The painful and profoundly disfiguring visible manifestations of the disease, lymphoedema, elephantiasis and scrotal swelling occur later in life and can lead to permanent disability. These patients are not only physically disabled, but suffer mental, social and financial losses contributing to stigma and poverty.
In 2020, 863 million people in 50 countries were living in areas that require preventive chemotherapy to stop the spread of infection.
The global baseline estimate of people affected by lymphatic filariasis was 25 million men with hydrocele and over 15 million people with lymphoedema. At least 36 million people remain with these chronic disease manifestations. Eliminating lymphatic filariasis can prevent unnecessary suffering and contribute to the reduction of poverty.