BACKGROUND: Onchocerciasis elimination through mass drug administration (MDA) is hampered by coendemicity of Loa loa, as people with high L. loa microfilariae (mf) density can develop serious adverse events (SAEs) after ivermectin treatment. We assessed the geographical overlap of onchocerciasis and loiasis prevalence and estimated the number of coinfected individuals at risk of post-ivermectin SAEs in West and Central Africa from 1995 to 2025. METHODS: Focusing on regions with suspected loiasis transmission in 14 countries, we overlaid precontrol maps of loiasis and onchocerciasis prevalence to calculate precontrol prevalence of coinfection by 5 km2 × 5 km2 pixel, distinguishing different categories of L. loa mf intensity. Using statistical and mathematical models, we predicted prevalence of both infections and coinfection for 2015 and 2025, accounting for the impact of MDA with ivermectin. RESULTS: The number of people infected with onchocerciasis was predicted to decline from almost 19 million in 1995 to 4 million in 2025. Of these, 137 000 people were estimated to also have L. loa hypermicrofilaremia (≥20 000 L. loa mf/mL) in 1995, declining to 31 000 in 2025. In 2025, 92.8% of coinfected cases with loiasis hypermicrofilaremia are predicted to live in hypoendemic areas currently not targeted for MDA. CONCLUSIONS: Loiasis coinfection is a major concern for onchocerciasis elimination in Africa. We predict that under current strategies, at least 31 000 coinfected people still require treatment for onchocerciasis in 2025 while being at risk of SAEs, justifying continued efforts in research and development for safer drugs and control strategies.

Loa loa, mass drug administration, onchocerciasis, ONCHOSIM, serious adverse events,
Clinical Infectious Diseases
Department of Public Health

Vinkeles Melchers, N.V.S, Coffeng, L.E, Boussinesq, M, Pedrique, B. (Belén), Pion, S.D.S. (Sébastien D S), Tekle, A.H. (Afework H.), … Stolk, W.A. (2020). Projected Number of People With Onchocerciasis-Loiasis Coinfection in Africa, 1995 to 2025. Clinical Infectious Diseases, 70(11), 2281–2289. doi:10.1093/cid/ciz647