A new diagnostic test that can quickly and easily detect onchocerciasis will be distributed to areas in Africa where the disease still persists, according to a press release.
Developed by the international nonprofit PATH and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the SD Bioline Onchocerciasis IgG4 rapid test can detect antibodies in as little as 20 minutes. They will be manufactured and distributed by Standard Diagnostics, and only require one drop of blood, as opposed to the existing test that involves a painful removal of skin for microscopic examination, the release said.
Onchocerciasis, commonly referred to as river blindness, is a neglected tropical disease caused by a parasitic worm transmitted to humans through a blackfly bite. It can cause itching, skin disfiguration and permanent blindness with chronic exposure. The disease is most frequent among poor, rural communities located near streams and rivers.
An estimated 120 million people worldwide are at risk for onchocerciasis while 18 million currently are infected. The IgG4 rapid test will allow health care workers to more effectively allocate resources by identifying areas where the disease is active.
“The proven technology behind this test makes it a powerful and reliable tool in the multinational collaboration to eliminate river blindness,” David C. Kaslow, MD, vice president for PATH product development, said in the release. “The availability of a rapid, point-of-care diagnostic is a harbinger of a world free of the suffering caused by this insidious parasite. What’s needed now is quick action to add this simple test to control and elimination programs.”
Disclosure: David C. Kaslow, MD, is an employee of PATH, a co-developer of the test.