Effects of an injectable long-acting formulation of ivermectin on Onchocerca ochengi in zebu cattle

May 18, 2020

The availability of a safe macrofilaricidal drug would help to accelerate onchocerciasis elimination. A trial was conducted in Cameroon to evaluate the effects of a subcutaneous injectable long-acting formulation of ivermectin (LAFI) on the microfilariae (mf) and adult stages of Onchocerca ochengi. Ten zebu cattle naturally infected with the parasite were injected subcutaneously with either 500 mg (group A, N = 4), or 1000 mg long-acting ivermectin (group B, N = 4) or the vehicle (group C, N = 2). Skin samples were collected from each animal before, and 6, 12, and 24 months after treatment to measure microfilarial densities (MFDs). Nodules excised before, and 6 and 12 months after treatment were examined histologically to assess the adult worms’ viability and reproductive status. Blood samples were collected at pre-determined time-points to obtain pharmacokinetic data. Before treatment, the average O. ochengi MFDs were similar in the three groups. Six months after treatment, all animals in groups A and B were free of skin mf, whereas those in group C still showed high MFDs (mean = 324.5 mf/g). Only one ivermectin-treated animal (belonging to group A) had skin mf 12 months after treatment (0.9 mf/g). At 24 months, another animal in group A showed skin mf (10.0 mf/g). The histologic examination of nodules at 6 and 12 months showed that LAFI was not macrofilaricidal but had a strong effect on embryogenesis. The new LAFI regimen might be an additional tool to accelerate the elimination of human onchocerciasis in specific settings.

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