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Colombia is First Country to Interrupt Transmission of River Blindness

Colombia has become the first country to interrupt transmission of onchocerciasis (also known as river blindness) on a countrywide basis, according to officials of the Onchocerciasis Elimination Program in the Americas (OEPA). The announcement came in mid-November at the 17th Inter-American Conference on Onchocerciasis in Quito, Ecuador, which was organized by the Ministry of Health of Ecuador and OEPA, in collaboration with PAHO/WHO. Transmission has also been halted in endemic areas of Ecuador and Guatemala, and no new cases of blindness due to the disease have been seen anywhere in the region since 1995. Onchocerciasis, the second-leading infectious cause of blindness worldwide, is caused by the parasitic worm Onchocerca volvulus. Elimination in the Americas region is based on mass treatment twice yearly with the antiparasitic drug ivermectin, provided free of charge by Merck & Co. in the Americas and in Africa. Other partners in the OEPA effort include the ministries of health in the six endemic countries, The Carter Center, the Mectizan Donation Program, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Lions Clubs International Foundation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, PAHO/WHO, and the Pan American Health and Education Foundation.

Read the news release from Merck (PDF) >>

Learn More:

Onchocerciasis Elimination Program of the Americas (OEPA) >

Carter Center River Blindness Program >

Carter Center Work in Colombia >

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