Onchocerciasis - Treatment

How was your onchocerciasis treated?

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How is onchocerciasis treated?

Treatment is done by giving the patient ivermectin, an antiparasitic drug once or twice per year for about 10-15 years (the life span of adult worms). This drug is effective in killing the microfilariae but does not kill the adult worms. The mature worms may remain alive for 10-15 years in the patient. Most clinicians recommend that subcutaneous nodules should be excised, if possible, thereby removing the adult worms that may reproduce more microfilariae over time. Some clinicians recommend that after ivermectin treatment, patients may benefit from a six-week dose of doxycycline antibiotic. Doxycycline damages and kills Wolbachia bacteria that are inside the microfilariae and adult worms, resulting in the death of microfilariae and ineffective microfilariae produced by the surviving adult worms. This may slow or halt further disease development.

The use of diethylcarbamazine (a treatment used before ivermectin became available) is contraindicated; it may cause severe or fatal patient reactions in individuals with onchocerciasis.

A new drug capable of killing the adult worms of onchocerciasis is under study for use in humans; it's named moxidectin but has not yet been approved for use in humans.

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