Travel Medicine / Vaccination / Immunization Expert Forum
Onchocerciasis?
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Questions in the Travel Medicine forum are answered by Dr. Philip D Parks, affiliated with Harvard School of Public Health. Topics covered include disease prevention, finding a doctor abroad, food and water safety, illness and injury abroad, mosquito and tick protection, resources for travelers, traveling with children or pets, traveling with special needs, vaccinations and immunizations.

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Onchocerciasis?

My sister is volunteering in Ghana for the first time and she thinks she and her friends have contracted onchocerciasis. The doctor has diagnosed it and has given her Ivermectin but the doctor did not know much about the disease and she is concerned that her treatment may be inadequate. Should she return home to the UK to be seen by her own doctor or can she continue her work in Ghana for the time being? Can she continue to get Ivermectin here under the nhs?
Avatar_dr_m_tn
Hello,

The decision to medically evacuate your sister should be based on her clinical situation and whether or not she has access to adequate diagnostics and treatment.

You may have already read about the challenges of treating onchocerciasis. It is very important that medications are taken to kill both the parasite (larval) form and the adult worm. For example, Doxycycline treats both forms of the W. bancrofti parasite.

Ivermectin is not effective in treating the adult worm but is effective in treating the larva (microfiliaria).

It is also important that your sister be evaluated for co-infection with Loa Loa, another parasitic disease that can also be present. Individuals who are co-infected with Loa Loa and are treated with Ivermectin, may have severe adverse (inflammatory) reactions to Ivermectin.

Please follow-up with addition questions that you may have.

~ Dr. Parks

This answer provided to you is not intended as and does not substitute for medical advice. The information presented in this Medhelp.org posting is for patients’ education only. As always, I encourage you to see your personal physician for further evaluation of your individual case.
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