Onchocerciasis can be eliminated with ivermectin. Proof of principle in specific African endemic areas
A major study has now conclusively shown that ivermectin not only controls onchocerciasis, but it also interrupts transmission and has been able to eliminate the parasite in endemic areas in Africa. Published in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, the TDR-supported study in three hyperendemic areas in Mali and Senegal where treatment had been given for 15 to 17 years, shows that those treatments could be safely stopped.
Mass treatment with ivermectin controls onchocerciasis as a public health problem, but it was not known if it could also interrupt transmission and eliminate the parasite in endemic areas in Africa where vectors that carry the parasite are highly efficient. This article reports the results of the final evaluations up to 5 years after the last treatment in which more than 29 000 people and half a million blackflies were examined. The results showed no evidence of renewed transmission after stopping treatment and only continuing declines in infection levels, reaching zero in two sites.