River blindness (also known as onchocerciasis) is a disease that currently infects around 21 million people in sub-Saharan Africa and the Americas. River blindness is caused by an infection from a parasitic worm transmitted by blackflies, which breed in fast-flowing streams and rivers.
The worms produce larvae that move to the skin, eyes and other organs. This can lead to debilitating itching, disfiguring skin conditions and sight loss (including irreversible blindness). With these conditions, river blindness has an enormous impact on the lives of those infected by reducing their ability to work and study in school.
Countries that have eliminated river blindness
Four countries have eliminated river blindness since 2012:
- Colombia (2013)
- Ecuador (2014)
- Mexico (2015)
- Guatemala (2016)
Countries implementing preventive chemotherapy for river blindness
People receiving preventive chemotherapy for river blindness
Since the London Declaration was signed in 2012 and partners committed to defeating neglected tropical diseases, the number of people receiving preventive chemotherapy for river blindness has increased considerably.