Current status of onchocerciasis in Colombia.

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  • 1 Instituto de Salud en el Tropico, Universidad Nacional, Bogota, Colombia.

To assess the current epidemiologic status of onchocerciasis in Colombia two surveys were undertaken in 1995 in a suspected new focus on the border between Colombia and Ecuador and in the known focus located on the Micay River. No new focus was found along the Colombia-Ecuador border. In the known focus, communities along the upper Micay River and its tributaries were surveyed; 655 adults underwent physical examinations and skin biopsies. Infected individuals were found almost exclusively in the community of Naiciona, where prevalence of infection was 40% (36 of 91). Polymerase chain reaction detection of onchocercal DNA in skin snips correlated with the skin-snip biopsy results. The prevalence of punctate keratitis, the only ocular manifestation found, was 33%. A rapid entomologic assessment demonstrated Simulium exiguum infected with Onchocerca volvulus. This is the first finding in Colombia of naturally infected black flies and confirms S. exiguum as a vector species. These data will be used for implementing a control program using periodic ivermectin distribution.