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The First Confirmed Elimination of an Onchocerciasis Focus in Africa: Abu Hamed, Sudan

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  • 1 Ministry of Health, Khartoum, Sudan.
  • | 2 The Carter Center, Khartoum, Sudan.
  • | 3 The Carter Center, Atlanta, Georgia.
  • | 4 Global Health Infectious Disease Research Program, College of Public Health, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida.
  • | 5 Michigan State University, Lancing, Michigan.
  • | 6 Ohio University, Zanesville, Ohio.
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Mass treatment with ivermectin for onchocerciasis was stopped in 2012 in Abu Hamed, an isolated focus on the River Nile in northern Sudan. A 3-year posttreatment surveillance (PTS) ensued, at the end of which an evaluation was conducted in 2015 following the current World Health Organization guidelines for verification of onchocerciasis elimination. Vector black flies were collected from sentinel breeding sites and finger-prick bloodspots were collected from children ≤ 10 years of age resident in 35 communities within the focus. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) screening of 19,191 flies from four sites for the O-150 parasite-specific marker found no flies carrying Onchocerca volvulus larvae (0%, 95% upper confidence limit [UCL] = 0.16), and serological testing of 5,266 children identified only one Ov16 seropositive child (0.019%, 95% UCL = 0.074); whose skin snips were negative when tested by O-150 PCR assay. These results indicate that for the first time in Africa, onchocerciasis elimination has been verified after a successful PTS in Abu Hamed.

Author Notes

* Address correspondence to Tarig B. Higazi, Department of Biological Sciences, Ohio University, 249 Elson Hall, 1425 Newark Road, Zanesville, OH 43701. E-mail: higazi@ohio.edu

Authors' addresses: Isam M. A. Zarroug, Entomology, Ministry of Health, Khartoum, Sudan, E-mail: imazarroug@gmail.com. Kamal Hashim, Ophthalmology, Ministry of Health, Khartoum, Sudan, E-mail: kamalbinnawi@yahoo.com. Wigdan A. ElMubark, Zainab A. I. Shumo, Kawthar A. M. Salih, Nuha A. A. ElNojomi, and Huda A. Awad, Parasitology, Ministry of Health, Khartoum, Sudan, E-mails: wigdanelmubark@yahoo.com, shumo@yahoo.com, kawthar@yahoo.com, elnojomi@yahoo.com, and hudaaawad@hotmail.com. Nabil Aziz, The Carter Center, Khartoum, Sudan, E-mail: nabilazizm@hotmail.com. Moses Katabarwa and Frank Richards, The Carter Center, Emory University, Atlanta, GA, E-mails: mkataba@emory.edu and frank.richards@cartercenter.org. Hassan K. Hassan and Thomas R. Unnasch, Department of Global Health, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL, E-mails: hhassan@health.usf.edu and tunnasch@health.usf.edu. Charles D. Mackenzie, Department of Pathobiology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, E-mail: mackenz8@msu.edu. Tarig B. Higazi, Department of Biological Sciences, Ohio University Zanesville, Zanesville, OH, E-mail: higazi@ohio.edu.

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