Podoconiosis (endemic non-filarial elephantiasis) is a non-infectious geochemical disease arising in barefoot subsistence farmers whose feet are in long-term contact with irritant red clay soil of volcanic origins. Often, these are farmers living in poverty who cannot afford shoes and in communities where shoe-wearing behaviour is undeveloped.
It is a type of ‘elephantiasis’ or swelling of the lower leg. It came from the greek words “Podos” means foot and “konia” means dust.The disease causes massive swelling and disabling skin changes in the lower legs. At least one million people are estimated to be affected with podoconiosis in Ethiopia, and a further 11 million at risk. Unlike other form of elephantiasis, there is no biological agent that has been identified.
Podoconiosis-affected individuals often face severe stigma from health workers and community members alike.