Volume 92, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645



Although podoconiosis is one of the major causes of tropical lymphoedema and is endemic in Ethiopia its epidemiology and risk factors are poorly understood. Individual-level data for 129,959 individuals from 1,315 communities in 659 (districts) were collected for a nationwide integrated survey of lymphatic filariasis and podoconiosis. Blood samples were tested for circulating antigen using immunochromatographic card tests. A clinical algorithm was used to reach a diagnosis of podoconiosis by excluding other potential causes of lymphoedema of the lower limb. Bayesian multilevel models were used to identify individual and environmental risk factors. Overall, 8,110 of 129,959 (6.2%, 95% confidence interval [CI] 6.1–6.4%) surveyed individuals were identified with lymphoedema of the lower limb, of whom 5,253 (4.0%, 95% CI 3.9–4.1%) were confirmed to be podoconiosis cases. In multivariable analysis, being female, older, unmarried, washing the feet less frequently than daily, and being semiskilled or unemployed were significantly associated with increased risk of podoconiosis. Attending formal education and living in a house with a covered floor were associated with decreased risk of podoconiosis. Podoconiosis exhibits marked geographical variation across Ethiopia, with variation in risk associated with variation in rainfall, enhanced vegetation index, and altitude.

[open-access] This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


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  • Received : 17 Jul 2014
  • Accepted : 15 Sep 2014
  • Published online : 07 Jan 2015

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