Zoonotic Disease
Pathogen which causes diseases

50 million Nigerians at risk of Onchocerciasis Disease – NTDs Director

The Director, of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs), Fatayi Oyediran, has raised the alarm that about 50 million Nigerians’ lives are currently being threatened with the risk of infection from black flies bites called onchocerciasis.

The Director made this known at Osun State University, Osogbo main campus, during a two-week capacity-building training on black fly entomology organized by the Zoology department on Wednesday.

Oyediran, who affirmed that the infection remains one of the public health concerns, hinted that those affected cut across 40,000 communities in 32 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

In his own submission, one of the facilitators, Prof B. E. B Nwoke, remarked, “We have come for the training of young scientists in the study and management of black flies that transmit river blindness, and we need them to be trained appropriately so that they will now be used in fighting against the black fly and also help us to control river blindness because these black flies breed in fast flowing waters.”

“In Nigeria, we have already interrupted transmission in Plateau state, Nasarawa, Zamfara, Kebbi, Kaduna, Delta, Imo, Abia, Enugu, and Anambra, and more than 39 million Nigerians are no longer taking the drug because the disease has been eliminated or interrupted.”

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“But in other areas where the disease is still very endemic, we need to train these younger ones to help us evaluate them. We now run through the flies, get them and analyze them and find out whether they’re still carrying the parasite or not. If they are not carrying the parasite, it means they are no longer transmitting the disease.

“This disease causes the highest blindness in Nigeria after glaucoma. So if we’re able to stop it from transmitting the parasite that causes river blindness, we’ve interrupted the transmission.”

“That is why we’re training these younger ones to know the biology, how they transmit it, and how we can control them or eliminate them so that they can no longer transmit it.”

Also, the Principal Investigator, Prof M. A. Adeleke, stated that Nigeria is currently winning the war toward eliminating onchocerciasis as public health disease.

According to him,” We intend to train entomologists/Scientists on critical skills in entomology such as breeding sites prospection, fly catching, slash and clear and trapping towards retaining active scientists as we are cruising to the elimination of oncho in Nigeria. ”

“Our studies on the traps, pilot studies on slash and clear and black fly breeding sites validation in the last five years have been impressive and prompted more studies to inform policies on vector control in Nigeria,” he submitted.