Countdown to Zero: River Blindness

On Exhibit posts

A colorful painting on the side of a shop in Mexico encourages residents to get treatment to avoid river blindness. OEPA stands for “Onchocerciasis Elimination Program for the Americas.” © The Carter Center/B. Brookshire

A colorful painting on the side of a shop in Mexico encourages residents to get treatment to avoid river blindness. OEPA stands for “Onchocerciasis Elimination Program for the Americas.”

© The Carter Center/B. Brookshire


Disease agent: Onchocerca volvulus worms

The threat: Occurs mainly in tropical areas; more than 99 percent of infected people live in sub-Saharan Africa.

How infection spreads: Through the bites of black flies. Worms reproduce under the skin, producing thousands of offspring that inflame the skin and cause blindness.

Defeating the disease: Drug treatment is critical; killing fly larvae in their breeding places also helps interrupt transmission.

Eradication potential: Successful elimination efforts in Latin America offer models for tackling the disease in sub-Saharan Africa. 

What does it take to wipe out a disease? Find out in the new exhibition Countdown to Zero: Defeating Disease,  which opens on Tuesday, January 13.

The full story appears in the Winter issue of Rotunda, the Member magazine.