This article will provide all the necessary information you need to know about river blindness disease in Biu Local government Area.
Biu local government has the highest reported cases of river blindness disease in Bornu State.
The Federal Ministry Of Health in Nigeria revealed that there are 50 million Nigerians suffering from the disease.
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Out of these 50 million Nigerians only about 30 million infected by river blindness disease are receiving medical treatment while the remaining 20 million Nigerians do not have access to medical treatment due to inaccessibility and ignorance.
Biu Local Government, Bornu State
Biu is a town found in Biu local government area of Bornu. It is located in the southern part of Bornu and it remains the headquarters of Biu local government.
Biu Kingdom was established by King Mari Watirwa in 1670. His defeat of the Fulani invaders from the Gombe emirate made the palace of the emir to be located in Biu.
The people of Biu are mostly farmers; they grow crops such as maize, millet, cotton, sorghum. They are rear animals such as cattle, goats, sheep, and horses.
Occurrence Of River Blindness Disease In Biu
Some key things to note about the disease in the town are;
a. River blindness disease is endemic in Biu town of Bornu.
b. The average age of the infected persons ranges from 7 to 48
c. The disease has greatly affected the livelihood of the people in Biu town
d. Most of the villages in Biu town are mesoendemic
What You Need To Know About The River Blind Disease
- River blindness disease is caused by parasitic filarial worm known as Onchocerca volvulus.
- It lives in the body of the black fly, Simulium damnosum ssp.
- The black fly produces larvae that require a lot of oxygen which can only be gotten from fast flowing river.
- It is usually transmitted to humans whenever they get bitten by black fly.
- This usually occurs when humans visit rivers that are breeding sites of these black flies.
- The offsprings of the Onchocerciasis called microfilariae are responsible for skin itching when they swim through the skin.
- It can greatly reduce the lifespan of humans by as much as 10 years.
Consequences Of River Blindness Disease
River blindness disease is caused by the parasitic filarial worm. It can live in the human body for about 14 years and if the infected person is not given medical treatment, it can lead to other severe disease conditions like epilepsy, infertility and sterility, secondary amenorrhea and lactation difficulties. Some of the most common consequences are;
Blindness And Impaired Vision
This is the most common consequence of this disease. River blindness disease is the second leading cause of blindness due to infection in the world.
When a person is bitten by a black fly, it transmits onchocerciasis to the body. The microfilariae then migrate to the eye and dies there. This causes serious inflammation and scarring that eventually leads to blindness.
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When the disease has reached critical point, it can cause serious body itching. This can be very painful and if left untreated can lead to skin deformation.
The itching happens because the dead microfilariae causes the subcutaneous tissue to produce inflammatory response.
The continuous itching of the skin would cause the skin to swell and become thick.
When this happens to the skin, it is often called lizard skin.
The skin may also suffer from discoloration which is obvious on dark skin and it is commonly referred to as leopard skin.
One of the consequences of the river blindness disease is the growth of nodules on the skin and deep in the skin. This nodules contain adult worms and may vary in size from one centimeters to as big as five centimeters.
There could be as many as 100 nodules found in an affected person’s body. The nodules could be found on the skull, hips, ribs, elbows, thigh and knees. Some of these nodules can also be found deep in the muscle causing unbearable pain.
The location of these nodules will depend on where the person is bitten by the black fly as well as the clothes worn by the person.
Diagnosis Of The River Blindness Disease
This is usually done by taking a cut from the skin, applying chemicals on it and examining it critically in a microscope.
Cure For River Blindness Disease
River blindness disease is not a fatal disease and an infected person who makes himself available for treatment can be cured.
One of the most powerful drugs used in curing infected person is Mectizan.
By injecting the infected person with a single dose of Mectizan of about 150 to 200 mcg/kg, the microfilariae on the skin can be reduced to zero.
This helps to significantly reduce the transmission of the parasite to the skin and eye.
Infected persons experiencing serious itching will be greatly relieved by this drug. It also helps in suppressing other known symptoms of the disease.
Patients experiencing advanced cases of blindness by the disease may be resistant to treatment using Mectizan.
Efforts By The Government Of Nigeria In Curbing The Disease
Ever since a youth corper; Francisca Olamiju serving in Taraba discovered the occurrence of the disease in 1995, the government has been working very hard in stemming the disease completely.
One of the major challenges faced by the government in controlling the spread of the disease was due to ability of black fly to travel long distance and establish themselves in different locations.
This made efforts by the government uncoordinated and ineffective. However the creation of the Onchocerciasis Control Programme (OCP) in 1974 in Tunisia to deal with the disease on a national basis rather than unit led to massive success.
The partnership with drug manufacturing company, Merck; who pledged to donate mectizan to anyone who needs it also helped to reduce the occurrence of River blindness disease.
River blindness disease is a terrible disease that should be given utmost attention and the people of Biu local government should be provide with all the necessary medical facilities in order to reduce the spread of the disease.
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