Ivermectin treatment response in two rural villages with a high prevalence of onchocerciasis and epilepsy, Mahenge Tanzania
Background: Despite 20 years of ivermectin mass distribution in the Mahenge area, Tanzania, the prevalence of onchocerciasis and epilepsy has remained high in rural villages.
Objectives: We investigated the efficacy of ivermectin in reducing Onchocerca volvulus microfilariae and predictors for parasitic load following ivermectin treatment in persons with (PWE) and without epilepsy (PWOE).
Methods: Between April and September 2019, 50 PWE and 160 randomly selected PWOE from Msogezi and Mdindo villages participated in a follow-up study. Skin snips were obtained pre (baseline) and three months post-ivermectin treatment.
Results: The overall prevalence of O. volvulus positive skin snips at baseline was 49% (103/210), with no significant difference between PWE (58.0%) and PWOE (46.3%); p=0.197. The overall mean microfilarial density was significantly higher at baseline 1.45(95%CI:0.98-2.04)) than three-month post-ivermectin treatment (0.23(95%CI:0.11-0.37), p<0.001. Three months after ivermectin, the microfilarial density had decreased by ≥80% in 54 (81.8%, 95%CI: 72.3-91.4) of the 66 individuals with positive skin snips at baseline. High microfilarial density at baseline was the only significant predictor associated with higher microfilarial
density in the post-ivermectin skin snips.
Conclusion: Our study reports a decrease in microfilarial density following ivermectin treatment in most individuals. Optimizing ivermectin coverage will address the ongoing onchocerciasis transmission in Mahenge.
Keywords: Onchocerciasis, ivermectin; treatment response, epilepsy; Tanzania.
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