Eliminating Onchocerciasis: Preventative Measures to Keep You Healthy
Onchocerciasis, more commonly known as ‘river blindness’, is caused by a parasitic worm and is an incredibly debilitating condition. The disease can cause everything from intense itching to vision loss and physical deformities.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to reduce the chance of being infected. Here are some insights into how you can protect your health and those around you from getting this life-altering condition.
Avoid Areas Where the Disease is Endemic
If you live in or are visiting an area where onchocerciasis is present, you should be aware that the disease is spread through contact with infected blackflies. To reduce the chance of contracting the disease, it’s best to avoid visiting endemic areas. This can include rural areas near rivers, where the blackfly is more likely to be found.
Seek Treatment If Infected
If you suspect that you may have onchocerciasis, it’s important to seek medical attention right away. Early detection and treatment can be effective at reducing the severity of the symptoms and preventing the disease from progressing.
Wear Suitable Clothing
When in areas where the blackfly is present, it’s best to cover as much of your skin as possible with light colours or patterned clothing. This is because the blackfly is attracted to dark colours and also constricted areas. Wearing loose clothing is also a good idea, as this can limit the areas that it can bite.
Use Insect Repellents
Using insect repellents can be a great way to discourage blackflies from biting, and reduce the risk of getting onchocerciasis. Look for products that contain DEET, which is known to be especially effective at keeping the disease-carrying insect at bay.
Practice Good Hygiene
Finally, it’s important to practice good hygiene to reduce the risk of infection. Make sure to wash your hands regularly, wear suitable clothing, and keep any cuts clean and covered. This will help to reduce the chance of getting onchocerciasis and other diseases.
Protecting yourself, your family and those around you is essential when it comes to eliminating onchocerciasis. By following the steps outlined above, you can ensure that you, and those in your community, remain healthy and safe.