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Acta Trop. 2009 Sep;111(3):203-10. doi: 10.1016/j.actatropica.2009.04.001. Epub 2009 Apr 11.

The elimination of the vector Simulium neavei from the Itwara onchocerciasis focus in Uganda by ground larviciding.

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  • 1Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine, Bernhard-Nocht-Strasse 74, D-20359 Hamburg, Germany. garms@bni-hamburg.de


The Itwara focus of onchocerciasis covers an area of approximately 600 km(2) in western Uganda about 20 km north of Fort Portal. The vector is Simulium neavei, whose larvae and pupae live in a phoretic association on freshwater crabs. The phoretic host in the Itwara focus is the crab Potamonautes aloysiisabaudiae. Before any onchocerciasis control, ATPs were estimated to reach between 4500 and 6500 infective larvae per person per year. S. neavei was found to be a very efficient vector with 40% of parous flies harbouring developing larvae of Onchocerca volvulus. After 4 years of community-based distribution of ivermectin transmission was still considerable and in 1995 monthly treatment of streams with the larvicide temephos commenced in the first of three sub-foci, and was gradually extended to the whole focus. Biting S. neavei disappeared from the first sub-focus (Itwara main) in June 1996, and the last infested crab was caught in November 1996. In the second sub-focus (Siisa) treatment commenced towards the end of 1995, and the last biting fly was caught in March 1997, but a deterioration in the security situation interrupted the programme (after only three treatments in the third sub-focus). Monthly treatments restarted in the second and third sub-foci (Aswa) in September 1998, and when the situation was reassessed in 2003 no biting flies were found anywhere, and the flies had not reinvaded the first sub-focus, but infected crabs were found in the second and third sub-foci. The last treatments were carried out in April-June 2003, and since then no infested crabs have been found. In summary, no S. neavei-infested crabs have been found anywhere in the focus since June 2003 and the vector is considered eliminated from that date. However, transmission had already been halted since February 2001, when the last biting flies had been collected. The parasite reservoir should die out in the human population by 2016.

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