Ongoing Transmission of Onchocerca volvulus after 25 Years of Annual Ivermectin Mass Treatments in the Vina du Nord River Valley, in North Cameroon

PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2016 Feb 29;10(2):e0004392. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0004392. eCollection 2016 Feb.


Background: Recent reports of transmission interruption of Onchocerca volvulus, the causing agent of river blindness, in former endemic foci in the Americas, and more recently in West and East Africa, raise the question whether elimination of this debilitating disease is underway after long-term treatment of the population at risk with ivermectin. The situation in Central Africa has not yet been clearly assessed.

Methods and findings: Entomologic data from two former endemic river basins in North Cameroon were generated over a period of 43 and 48 months to follow-up transmission levels in areas under prolonged ivermectin control. Moreover, epidemiologic parameters of animal-borne Onchocerca spp. transmitted by the same local black fly vectors of the Simulium damnosum complex were recorded and their impact on O. volvulus transmission success evaluated. With mitochondrial DNA markers we unambiguously confirmed the presence of infective O. volvulus larvae in vectors from the Sudan savannah region (mean Annual Transmission Potential 2009-2012: 98, range 47-221), but not from the Adamawa highland region. Transmission rates of O. ochengi, a parasite of Zebu cattle, were high in both foci.

Conclusions/significance: The high cattle livestock density in conjunction with the high transmission rates of the bovine filaria O. ochengi prevents the transmission of O. volvulus on the Adamawa plateau, whereas transmission in a former hyperendemic focus was markedly reduced, but not completely interrupted after 25 years of ivermectin control. This study may be helpful to gauge the impact of the presence of animal-filariae for O. volvulus transmission in terms of the growing human and livestock populations in sub-Saharan countries.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anthelmintics / administration & dosage*
  • Cameroon / epidemiology
  • Cattle
  • Cattle Diseases / epidemiology
  • Cattle Diseases / parasitology
  • Cattle Diseases / transmission*
  • Humans
  • Insect Vectors / drug effects*
  • Insect Vectors / parasitology
  • Insect Vectors / physiology
  • Insecticides / pharmacology*
  • Ivermectin / administration & dosage*
  • Onchocerca volvulus / physiology*
  • Onchocerciasis / drug therapy
  • Onchocerciasis / epidemiology
  • Onchocerciasis / parasitology
  • Onchocerciasis / transmission*
  • Rivers / parasitology
  • Rural Population
  • Simuliidae / drug effects*
  • Simuliidae / parasitology
  • Simuliidae / physiology


  • Anthelmintics
  • Insecticides
  • Ivermectin

Grant support

This study was funded by the German Research Foundation under the project number DFG RE-1536/ff. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.