Ivermectin Prophylaxis Against Experimental Onchocerca Volvulus Infection in Chimpanzees

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  • * International Center for Epidemiologic and Preventive Ophthalmology, The Wilmer Institute
  • | School of Hygiene and Public Health, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland
  • | Cornell University, Ithaca, New York
  • | § Liberian Institute for Biomedical Research, Robertsfield, Liberia
  • | Flinders Medical Centre, Bedford Park, South Australia
  • | ** Division of Geographic Medicine, Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals, Cleveland, Ohio

Ivermectin was tested for possible prophylactic action against the third and fourth larval stages (L3 and L4) of Onchocerca volvulus inoculated into chimpanzees. The infective larvae (L3) were obtained from laboratory-raised black flies. Eighteen chimpanzees were inoculated, each with approximately 250 L3. Six were treated with ivermectin (200 µg/kg) on the day of inoculation, 6 were treated with ivermectin on day 28, and 6 were not treated. Monthly skin snips were taken for the next 30 months to detect patent infection. One of the chimpanzees treated with ivermectin on the day of infection developed a patent infection as did 4 of the 6 treated at day 28 and 4 of the 6 control animals. The results suggest that ivermectin may have a partial in vivo effect against the L3 of O. volvulus but has no effect against later larval stages of the parasite.

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