No fewer than 7,907,586 persons are at risk of Onchocerciasis also known as river blindness in the%Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Borno and Ondo states. Specifically, 2,480,779 persons are at risk in Borno state, 3,489,722 are at risk in Ondo state, while 1,937085 are at risk in the FCT.
Authoritative data from the Federal Ministry of Health put the number of persons at risk of river blindness all over the country%to over 50 million.
Records revealed that 1,103245; 1,011,385 and 2,724,142 persons were treated in Borno, Ondo states and FCT in 2019.
According to sources in the Federal Ministry of Health, Askira/Uba and Damboa Local Government Areas (LGA) in Borno state have the highest prevalence with 30.1 percent each while Ifedore and Irele LGAs have the highest prevalence in Ondo state with 92.4 and 87.1 percent respectively in the affected Councils In the FCT, Kuje Area Council has the highest prevalence with 35.4 percent.
Mr. Michael Igbe, Programme Manager, National Onchocerciasis Elimination Programme of the Federal Ministry of Health said 32 states and FCT were endemic, stressing that there are 481 endemic LGAs in the country. Interruption of transmission of onchocerciasis has been achieved
in Plateau, Nasarawa, Kaduna, Kebbi and Zamfara states which reduced the endemic states to 27.
He disclosed that Onchocerciasis is the second leading cause of preventable blindness and is transmitted by the bite of an infected black fly (Simulium damnosum) which breeds in fast flowing streams and rivers.
According to Mr. Igbe, infection with Onchocerciasis leads to reduced immunity and resistance to other diseases which can lead to reduction of life expectancy of up to 13 years. His words;” infected adult cannot work; adults and children may stay at home to care for infected family members” stressing that those infected become blind early in life between 20-30 years.
Mr. Igbe, however, said the government had since 1990 started the treatment of Onchocerciasis with ivermectin, a drug that has proved to be potent and effective.