Onchocerciasis caused by Infection with Onchocerca volvulus

What is Onchocerciasis?

Onchocerciasis, also known as river blindness, is a neglected tropical disease caused by infection with Onchocerca volvulus. It is a leading cause of blindness in parts of Africa, parts of Latin America, and Yemen. The larvae of the parasite are transferred through the bite of a blackfly, which usually lives near rivers and other slow-moving bodies of water.


Common symptoms of onchocerciasis include intense itching, skin lesions, disfiguring nodules and rashes, eye lesions, and in advanced cases, blindness. These symptoms can be present for years.

Prevention and Treatment

Prevention of onchocerciasis focuses on vector control and drug treatment. Treatment typically involves targeting the adult parasites with ivermectin. Other drugs that are known to be effective include doxycycline, decoquinate, and albendazole.


The prognosis for onchocerciasis often depends on the severity of symptoms and how long a person has had the infection. In general, people with severe forms of the infection may experience permanent, irreversible skin and eye damage. In some cases, treatment may lead to improvement in the condition.


Onchocerciasis can lead to several complications, including permanent blindness, skin and eye damage, and impaired vision. Additionally, the condition often causes social stigma and exclusion in certain communities.


The risk of developing onchocerciasis is highest for people living in rural areas along rivers and other slow-moving bodies of water. People of any age can be infected, but children are particularly vulnerable because their immune systems are not yet fully developed.

Prevention Tips

  • Wear protective clothing, such as long-sleeved shirts and long pants, when outdoors.
  • Avoid areas where blackflies are known to be present.
  • Examine your skin regularly and check for any signs of infection.
  • Use insect repellents.
  • Practice proper sanitation.
  • Get regular check-ups to identify any early signs or symptoms.