Lymphatic filariasis, commonly known as elephantiasis, is a painful and profoundly disfiguring disease. While the infection is usually acquired in childhood, its visible manifestations occur later in life, causing temporary or permanent disability. In endemic countries, lymphatic filariasis has a major social and economic impact.
This mostly affects the legs, but can also occur in the arms, breasts, and genitalia. Most people develop these clinical manifestations years after being infectedeople infected with adult worms can take a yearly dose of medicine, called diethylcarbamazine (DEC), that kills the microscopic worms circulating in the blood. While this drug does not kill all of the adult worms, it does prevent infected people from giving the disease to someone else.
Globally, 1103 million people live in the countries where preventive treatment for lymphatic filariasis is required. WHO's African and South-East live in the South-East Asia Region (9 endemic countries) and 410 million (37%) live in the African Region (35 countries). The Region of the Americas, Eastern Mediterranean Region and Western Pacific Region (with 4, 3 and 22 endemic countries, respectively) together account for 6% of global distribution.