Field-based evidence of single and few doses of annual ivermectin treatment efficacy in eliminating skin microfilaria load after a decade of intervention

  • Hudu O. Osue
Keywords: Ivermectin, Microfilaria, Treatment Compliance, Onchocerciasis, Onchodermatitis, Visual Impairment


Background: Impact assessment of community-based ivermectin treatment control of onchocerciasis is required to determine its effectiveness. This study was conducted to evaluate geographic coverage and demographic ivermectin treatment compliance.

Methods: The number of village dosage were obtained from the community based distributors. Bioclinical data of participants comprising gender, age, number of treatment received from inception and dosage were obtained. Each participant was subjected to physical examination for palpable nodule and other skin clinical signs and symptoms of onchocerciasis. Visual acuity test was done using the Snellen illiterate E-chart. Eye examination was performed using touch loop and handheld ophthalmoscope. Skin snips from both iliac crests were incubated overnight at 28-32ºC and emerged micrifilaria enumerated under an inverted microscope. The changes in epidemiological indices at post-decade of mass drug administration were compared with baseline data.

Results: Village annual ivermectin treatment doses averaged 62%, ranging between 10-100%. Individual treatment compliance rate was generally low with an average of 4 treatments and a range between 0-10. Despite variations in treatment compliance, there were significant improvements in some onchocercal morbidities. These include reduced number and severity of itching, visual impairment, papular onchodermatitis, onchocercomata (palpable nodules) and leopard skin. Ivermectin treatment halted development of new blind cases, except the case of a man who had optic nerve disease and became blind 2 years after ivermectin treatment had commenced. There was a significant overall reduction in parasite burden with very low mean skin microfilaria load of 1.7mf per skin snip and 3.7% skin mf prevalence, compared to baseline data of 17.7mf and 37.9% respectively. The palpable nodule was also drastically reduced from 14.5% to 6.4%. Outcome of this study has practically demonstrated that even a single dose ivermectin treatment is capable of clearing skin mf load on a long-term basis. This assertion is exemplified by the result obtained from Bomjock village that had taken treatment only at inception, and the prevalence rate was reduced from 70% to about 9.0% at post-decade of intervention.

Conclusion: It can be inferred that high demographic coverage with annual treatment doses, it is feasible to attain a shorter time (within a decade) contrary to the anticipated longer-term projection.

Keywords: Ivermectin, Microfilaria, Treatment Compliance, Onchocerciasis, Onchodermatitis, Visual Impairment