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Podoconiosis (nonfilarial elephantiasis) 

Podoconiosis (nonfilarial elephantiasis)
Podoconiosis (nonfilarial elephantiasis)

Gail Davey


August 28, 2014: This chapter has been re-evaluated and remains up-to-date. No changes have been necessary.


Description of genetic susceptibility modified to include information from recent genome-wide association study.

Discussion of progress made in global awareness.

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date: 23 October 2021

Podoconiosis is an entirely preventable, noncommunicable, geochemical elephantiasis caused by exposure of bare feet to irritant clay soils. It is found across tropical Africa, central America, and north India where such soils coexist with high altitude, high rainfall, and low income. Prodromal symptoms include itching and a burning sensation in the foot; early changes include spreading or ‘splaying’ of the forefoot, swelling of the sole of the foot, leakage of colourless ‘lymph’ fluid, and moss-like or velvet-like changes in the skin; in advanced disease there is soft fluid (‘water bag’) or hard fibrotic (‘leathery’) swelling. Early stage disease is reversible by good foot hygiene and use of socks and shoes. Late stage disease, which results in considerable economic and social difficulties, is treated with elevation and compression of the leg and (if necessary) debulking surgery. Early stages are reversible given good foot hygiene, whereas late stages result in considerable economic and social difficulties and, despite treatment, may never fully resolve....

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