Ivermectin treatment response in two rural villages with a high prevalence of onchocerciasis and epilepsy, Mahenge Tanzania

  • Dan Bhwana
  • Bruno P Mmbando
  • Alfred Dusabimana
  • Athanas Mhina
  • Daniel P Challe
  • Joseph N Siewe Fodjo
  • Williams H Makunde
  • Robert Colebunders
Keywords: Onchocerciasis, ivermectin; treatment response, epilepsy; 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.


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1729-0503
print ISSN: 1680-6905