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BackgroundPodoconiosis is a type of elephantiasis characterised by swelling of the lower legs. It is often confused with other causes of tropical lymphedema and its global distribution is uncertain. Here we synthesise the available information on the presence of podoconiosis to produce evidence consensus maps of its global geographical distribution.Methods and findingsWe systematically searched available data on podoconiosis in SCOPUS and MEDLINE from inception, updated to 10 May, 2019, and identified observational and population-based studies reporting podoconiosis. To establish existence of podoconiosis, we used the number of cases reported in studies and prevalence data with geographical locations. We then developed an index to assess evidence quality and reliability, assigning each country an evidence consensus score. Using these summary scores, we then developed a contemporary global map of national-level podoconiosis status. There is evidence of podoconiosis in 17 countries (12 in Africa, three in Latin America, and two in Asia) and consensus on presence in six countries (all in Africa). We have identified countries where surveillance is required to further define the presence or absence of podoconiosis. We have highlighted areas where evidence is currently insufficient or conflicting, and from which more evidence is needed.ConclusionThe global distribution of podoconiosis is not clearly known; the disease extent and limits provided here inform the best contemporary map of the distribution of podoconiosis globally from available data. These results help identify surveillance needs, direct future mapping activities, and inform prevention plans and burden estimation of podoconiosis.

Original publication





PLoS neglected tropical diseases

Publication Date





Department of Global Heath and Infection, Brighton and Sussex Medical School, Falmer, Brighton, United Kingdom.


Humans, Elephantiasis, Prevalence, Topography, Medical, Global Health