A third of the world is threatened by parasitic diseases. This year’s prestigious Nobel Prize in Medicine goes to two scientists who developed a medicine that has nearly eradicated river blindness, a parasite-borne disease.
William C. Campbell, Ph.D and Satoshi Omura, Ph.D. are credited with saving the sight of millions of people because of their discovery. River blindness, also called onchocerciasis, is caused by a parasitic roundworm which infects the blackflies that breed in rapidly moving rivers and streams. Bites from these flies infects humans. For years this disease was widespread through Sub-Saharan Africa, Central and South America and South Asia.
According to the WHO(World Health Organization) “An estimated 18 Million people have been infected, with an estimated 270,000 people becoming blind from this parasite.”
The Drug they invented, Ivermectin, has dramatically decreased the number of infections of river blindness. Infected persons take the medication once per year for 16-18 years in order to reduce transmission to blackflies. In 2013 Colombia was proven to have the disease eradicated from its population, follwed by Ecuador in 2014. It is thought that Mexico may be free of it soon.
This fantastic discovery helps improve the overall health of the world population for years to come.
Written by Bart W., Technician with Milwaukee Eye Care