Loiasis

Loiasis, also known as African eye worm, is caused by the parasitic worm Loa loa. It infects 3-40 million people, mostly in West and Central Africa. Loiasis is transmitted through the repeated bites of deerflies (also known as mango flies or mangrove flies) of the genus Chrysops. The flies that transmit the parasite breed in the high-canopied rain forest of West and Central Africa. In addition to eye worm, the infection is most commonly associated with recurrent episodes of itchy swellings (local angioedema) known as Calabar swellings. Recognition of Loa loa infections has become more important in Africa because the presence of Loa loa infection has limited programs to control or eliminate onchocerciasis and lymphatic filariasis (learn more on Wikipedia, on the CDC website, or in this 2013 Lancet article).

Overlap of loiasis (black-and-white pie charts) and onchocerciasis (color map). Loiasis was mapped with the Rapid Assessment Procedure for Loa (RAPLOA) where villagers are asked for a history of worms in the eyes in their village. The Rapid Epidemiological Mapping of Onchocerciasis (REMO) is done by monitoring the prevalence of nodules caused by subcutaneous “nests” of adult O. volvulus worms. Credit: We thank Dr. Zouré of the WHO for generating this map upon our request (November 2014).

Overlap of loiasis (black-and-white pie charts) and onchocerciasis (color map). Loiasis was mapped with the Rapid Assessment Procedure for Loa (RAPLOA) where villagers are asked for a history of worms in the eyes in their village. The Rapid Epidemiological Mapping of Onchocerciasis (REMO) is done by monitoring the prevalence of nodules caused by subcutaneous “nests” of adult O. volvulus worms. Credit: We thank Dr. Zouré of the WHO for generating this map upon our request (November 2014).