image of Assessing Hypoendemic Onchocerciasis in Loa loa Endemic Areas of Southeast Nigeria
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645


Nigeria changed its goal for onchocerciasis from control to transmission elimination. Under the control program, ivermectin mass drug administration (MDA) focused only on hyper/meso-endemic local government areas (LGAs) identified by Rapid Epidemiological Mapping of Onchocerciasis as having ≥ 20% nodule rates. Because transmission is likely in some LGAs where nodule rates are < 20%, the new elimination paradigm requires MDA expansion. Determining which hypoendemic areas require MDA, termed onchocerciasis elimination mapping, is a major challenge. In 2016, we studied 19 ivermectin-naive hypoendemic LGAs in southern Nigeria that bordered LGAs under MDA. Fifty adults and 50 children (aged 5–10 years) were tested in 110 villages for onchocerciasis IgG4 antibody using an Ov16 rapid diagnostic test (RDT). A 10% subset of subjects provided a blood spot for confirmatory Ov16 ELISA. The mean prevalence of RDT positives was 0.5% in the 5,276 children tested (village range, 0.0–4.0%) versus 3.3% in 5,302 adults (village range, 0.0–58.0%). There was 99.3% agreement between the Ov16 RDT and ELISA. Six different MDA launch thresholds were applied to the RDT results based on different recommendations by the Nigeria Onchocerciasis Elimination Committee and the Onchocerciasis Technical Advisory Subgroup of the WHO. Mass drug administration targets for the same area varied tenfold by threshold chosen, from one LGA (population to be treated 221,935) to 13 LGAs (population 2,426,987). Because the Ov16 threshold selected will have considerable cost and resource implications, the decision to initiate MDA should incorporate entomological data demonstrating onchocerciasis transmission.

[open-access] This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


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  • Received : 27 Apr 2020
  • Accepted : 09 Aug 2020
  • Published online : 21 Sep 2020
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