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Mexico eliminates river blindness disease

By Tim Sandle     Oct 4, 2015 in Health
Mexico has announced that onchocerciasis (river blindness)has been eliminated within its borders. The claim has been verified by the World Health Organization (WHO).
In eliminating river blindness, Mexico becomes the third country in the world (that had the disease) to have officially eliminated it. Mexico’s Secretary of Health, Dr. Mercedes Juan Lopez, made the official announcement on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2015, during a press conference held in Washington, D.C.Other countries that have eliminated the disease include Colombia (which was the first to do so in 2013) and Ecuador (2014).
River blindness or Robles disease (onchocerciasis) is a parasitic disease caused by the filarial worm Onchocerca volvulus.Symptoms include severe itching, bumps under the skin, and blindness. The parasite worm is spread by the bites of a species of black fly (genus Simulium.) The flies live close to rivers; hence the name for the disease. The disease incubates in the body, manifesting as nodules and skin pigmentation in later years and eventually causing blindness when larvae produced by worms in the nodules migrate.
The Carter Center supported the campaign to eliminate the disease in Mexico. On receiving the news from Mexico, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, founder of The Carter Center, issued a statement saying: "Together with The Carter Center, Rosalynn and I recognize Mexico’s dedicated river blindness health workers for improving the lives of so many for generations to come. I am personally committed to wiping out this scourge in the Americas as soon as possible.”
Extensive distribution of a safe and effective oral medication called ivermectin was key to eliminating the disease. Considerable quantities were donated by drugs giant Merck under the trade name Mectizan.
More about Onchocerciasis, River blindness, Mexico, Jimmy carter
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