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Worm infection map paves way for better treatment

Nairobi, Kenya: The first ever mapping of the geographic distribution and prevalence of loa loa filariasis (loiasis) disease in Africa helped in designing better treatment strategies for river blindness and lymphatic filariasis, SciDev.Net reported.

The map is a part of the study, The Geographic Distribution of Loa loa in Africa: Results of Large-Scale Implementation of the Rapid Assessment Procedure for Loiasis (RAPLOA) that was published published in the journal PLoS. The study estimated that more than 14 million people live at high-risk areas in ten African countries. The disease affects the skin and eyes, and is caused by a bite from the Loa loa worm, also known as the African eye worm.

Honora Gustave Marie Zouré of WHO’s African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control (APOC) which undertook the mapping, said the study provided a first estimate of geographic distribution and prevalence, based on large-scale field survey data.

Zouré said, “This map will help inform decision makers on the treatment strategy that they can employ on whether ivermectin distribution under mass drug administration can be undertaken safely with a minimum of precautions, or if there is need to take measures before treating.”

“Mapping will help in designing intervention because of the concern over adverse side reactions which do seem to be related to prevalence and intensity.”

The countries involved in the study were Angola, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, DR Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Nigeria and Sudan.

Source: SciDev.Net