River blindness in Nigeria: photo essay

by IRIN News

Young boys bathing in a river in Nigeria known to be infected with the parasite that causes river blindness. Some 27 million people in Nigeria need treatment for river blindness, also known as onchocerciasis.  The disease is spread through the bite of a black fly that breeds in fast-flowing water. However, if at-risk people take the drug ivermectin, also known as Mectizan, annually for 15-17 years, the infection cycle is broken for life.  Photo: IRIN

Some 27 million people in Nigeria need treatment for river blindness, also known as onchocerciasis, according to NGO Sight Savers. The disease is spread through the bite of a black simulium fly, which breeds in fast-flowing water. However, if at-risk people take the drug ivermectin, also known as Mectizan, annually for 15-17 years, the infection cycle is broken for life, according to the African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control. NGOs Sightsavers and Helen Keller International have been working for years in northern Nigeria to try to eliminate the risks this disease poses to local inhabitants.