A community trial of ivermectin in the onchocerciasis focus of Asubende, Ghana. I. Effect on the microfilarial reservoir and the transmission of Onchocerca volvulus

Trop Med Parasitol. 1989 Sep;40(3):367-74.


A community trial of the microfilaricide ivermectin was undertaken in an isolated focus of hyperendemic savanna onchocerciasis in Ghana. One of the objectives was to determine the effect of mass treatment on the microfilarial reservoir and on the transmission of Onchocerciasis volvulus. Since 1978 the focus has been under entomological surveillance. This was intensified from 1 September 1987 till 11 February 1988 with daily vector collection and dissection of over 30,000 flies. A total of 14,991 people were treated with ivermectin on 7-10 October 1987. Skin snip surveys were done pre-treatment, and at two and four months after treatment. The mean skin microfilarial load in treated persons had fallen by more than 96% two months after treatment. During the next two months there was an increase in microfilaria loads which appeared to be faster than reported in the clinical trials. The total reservoir of skin microfilariae available for transmission had been reduced by an estimated 68%-78% two months after treatment. This was consistent with the entomological results which indicated a reduction in transmission of 65%-85% during the first three post-treatment months. The present study has shown for the first time that mass chemotherapy can significantly reduce onchocerciasis transmission. However, the remaining level of transmission was still unacceptably high and further studies are required to predict the long term impact of repeated mass treatment.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Ghana / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Insect Vectors / parasitology
  • Ivermectin / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Microfilariae / drug effects
  • Onchocerca / drug effects*
  • Onchocerca / physiology
  • Onchocerciasis / drug therapy*
  • Onchocerciasis / epidemiology
  • Onchocerciasis / parasitology
  • Onchocerciasis / transmission
  • Simuliidae / parasitology
  • Skin / parasitology
  • Time Factors


  • Ivermectin