1.What is Onchocerciasis?
Onchocerciasis, also known as river blindness, is caused by a worm known as Onchocerca volvulus. It is transmitted by the repeated bites of the infected blackflies to the human beings. These flies are commonly found in the river-front and streams close to the remote villages and the wet and fertile land.
In 31 African countries, more than 99% of the people are affected by onchocerciasis. This disease also prevails in Latin America and Yemen.
Onchocerciasis causes –
Onchocerciasis is the skin and eye disease that is basically caused by the worms and is spread to others by the repeated bites.
Onchocerciasis is caused when there is a transfer of larvae of the parasite in a human. This larvae enter the tissue and develop into adult worms. It then reproduces in the human tissue and migrates to the other areas of the connective tissue. The bacteria known as microfilaria helps this parasite to survive. When the worm dies, the host can destroy the optical tissue of the eye. The entire life cycle of the parasite is when the blackfly bites a human and ingests microfilariae.
Onchocerciasis symptoms –
The onchocerciasis symptoms include the following –
- Severe itching and changes in the skin.
- Visual impairment or loss of vision.
- In some cases, it can also lead to permanent blindness.
- Patches on the skin or discolouration.
- Itching, redness, or swelling in the eyes.
2.Who treats Onchocerciasis?
There are various local doctors and primary healthcare providers who treat onchocerciasis. But there are various specialists like ophthalmologists, dermatologists, etc. who can diagnose properly and give medications.
Onchocerciasis prevention –
At present, no vaccine to prevent this disease is available. However, you can prevent this by avoiding going to the places where blackflies may be present. Also, you can take various personal precautions in order to prevent yourself from the bite and reduce the chances of infection. The precautions include applying certified insect repellant on exposed skin, wearing long pants and long sleeves during the day when there is more chance of blackflie bites. and wearing permethrin- treated clothes.
Onchocerciasis diagnosis –
The doctor can easily diagnose onchocerciasis just by looking at the symptoms or by seeing the adult worms in the skin nodules, eyes, or the microfilariae in the skin. In addition to this, various tests can be done at an early stage to diagnose the onchocerciasis. A skin snip test onchocerciasis can also be done to diagnose this disease.
If the disease is diagnosed on time, it becomes easy to cure it. But once the worm turns into an adult, it becomes slightly difficult.
Onchocerciasis treatment –
The treatment is done by giving a patient a drug known as ivermectin. It is an antiparasitic drug that is given twice a year for around 10-15 years. This drug helps in killing the microfilariae, but it does not kill the worms that have turned to an adult.
The adult worm lives for around 10-15 years in the patient’s body and removing them may reproduce more microfilariae over the period of time.
This drug can show results in a six-week dosage. It kills the worms and slows down the further development of this disease. It can also cause side effects in some patients. A new drug named moxidectin is under the study but has not been approved for the use and treatment of this disease. Always remember that any drug for onchocerciasis should be taken only after consulting a doctor.
In case the signs and symptoms of onchocerciasis are severe, like pain in the eyes, loss of vision, too much redness, etc., hopspitalization may also be required.
Curefit is health services provider offering doctor consulations with an in-house pharmacy and diagnosis center set up for a full-body health checkup. They have a team of specialized doctors that can fulfill all your medical requirements. From the consultation services to checkup or diagnosis, they can help you with all. They are a holistic health care, having a team of specialised doctors. You can go through all the services that they provide. So, if you are looking for some sort of medical help, book an appointment with them.