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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
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    River blindness parasite resisting treatment

    River blindness parasite resisting treatment

    CHICAGO (Reuters) - The parasite that causes river blindness appears to be developing resistance to the only drug widely available to treat it, researchers said on Thursday. They said their findings raise concerns of a resurgence of a disease that has been effectively controlled in many parts of Africa.

    River blindness or onchocerciasis is an eye and skin disease caused by the filaria worm. It is transmitted to humans by blackflies breeding along fast-flowing tropical rivers and streams. In humans, the adult female worm produces thousands of baby or larval worms that spread throughout the body, causing skin lesions and blindness. The disease affects 18 million people worldwide.

    It has been controlled for nearly two decades through annual doses of a drug developed by Merck & Co. called ivermectin, or Mectizan, which also treats the severe skin itching caused by the disease.

    Researchers at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, writing in the journal The Lancet, report that the parasite is starting to resist treatment with ivermectin. "Because it doesn't eliminate the parasite, it requires treatment at least every year, and that doesn't get rid of it. It just reduces transmission," said Roger Prichard of the Institute of Parasitology, who led the study. "With resistance, that breaks down and we expect to see the disease becoming a problem again," he said.


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    Sep 2003


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