Onchocerciasis

Trevor A. Crowell, M.D., Paul G. Auwaerter, M.D.
Onchocerciasis is a topic covered in the Johns Hopkins ABX Guide.

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MICROBIOLOGY

  • Onchocerciasis is caused by filarial worm Onchocerca volvulus.
  • Epidemiology: world’s second-leading cause of blindness.
    • Approximately 18 million people are infected, and nearly one million have been permanently blinded or suffer severe visual impairment.
    • 99% of onchocerciasis cases occur in Africa.
  • O. volvulus transmitted to humans by blackflies (Simulium damnosum), which breed in fast-flowing rivers and streams.
  • Disease is endemic in 31 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, plus Venezuela, Brazil, and Yemen; WHO has recently certified Columbia (2013), Ecuador (2014), Mexico (2015), and Guatamala (2016) to be free of human onchocerciasis.

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Last updated: April 5, 2017