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Onchocerca volvulus

Onchocerciasis, or River Blindness, is a neglected tropical disease (NTD) caused by the parasitic worm Onchocerca volvulus. It is transmitted through repeated bites by blackflies of the genus Simulium. The disease is called River Blindness because the blackfly that transmits the infection lives and breeds near fast-flowing streams and rivers and the infection can result in blindness. In addition to visual impairment or blindness, onchocerciasis causes skin disease, including nodules under the skin or debilitating itching. Worldwide onchocerciasis is second only to trachoma as an infectious cause of blindness.

Image: Left/Right: Blackflies, the vector of onchocerciasis. Center: Microfilariae of O. volvulus from a skin nodule of a patient from Zambia, stained with H&E. Image taken at 1000x oil magnification. Credit: WHO, DPDx, CDC

  • Page last reviewed: August 10, 2015
  • Page last updated: August 10, 2015
  • Content source:
    • Global Health - Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria
    • Notice: Linking to a non-federal site does not constitute an endorsement by HHS, CDC or any of its employees of the sponsors or the information and products presented on the site.
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