River blindness, or onchocerciasis, is a disease caused by a parasitic worm found primarily in Africa. The worm (Onchocerca volvulus) is transmitted to humans as immature larvae through bites of infected black flies. Symptoms of infection include intense itching and skin nodules. Left untreated, infections in the eye can cause vision impairment that leads to blindness. Mass distribution of ivermectin is currently used to treat onchocerciasis. However, this treatment can be fatal when a person has high blood levels of another filarial worm, Loa loa.
Neglected Tropical Diseases News Releases
Scientists have sequenced the genome of the parasitic worm responsible for causing onchocerciasis—an eye and skin infection more commonly known as river blindness.
Scientists from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the University of California, Berkeley, and colleagues have developed a mobile phone microscope to measure blood levels of the parasitic filarial worm Loa loa.