Burden of disease in Gabon caused by loiasis: a cross-sectional survey. Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND: Loiasis is a highly prevalent helminth infection found in distinct regions of sub-Saharan Africa. The disease has been considered to be of minor clinical significance, but this belief is being increasingly challenged by recent evidence. We aimed to prospectively quantify the overall burden of disease caused by loiasis in an endemic region of Gabon, using disability-adjusted life years (DALYs). METHODS: We did a cross-sectional survey during 2017 and 2018 in rural Gabon. Volunteers underwent diagnostic tests for loiasis and were given a standardised questionnaire on symptoms. Participants reporting eye worm migration or harbouring Loa loa microfilariae were defined as loiasis positive. Morbidity-based DALYs associated with loiasis were estimated for the rural population of Gabon. FINDINGS: Between Sept 1, 2017 and May 31, 2018, 1235 participants residing in 38 villages in the Gabonese departments of Tsamba-Magotsi and Ogoou et des Lacs were screened. 626 (508%) of 1232 eligible participants had loiasis. 520 (422%) of 1232 participants reported eye worm migration. 478 (939%) of 509 individuals with eye worm migration also reported associated pain, and 397 (786%) of 505 reported vision disturbances. After correcting for age and sex, loiasis was significantly associated with a variety of symptoms, including transient painful oedema (adjusted odds ratio 176 [95% CI 137-226]) and arthralgia (130 [101-169]). Application of attributable fractions of correlating symptoms resulted in 4129 (95% CI 2739-5677) morbidity-based DALYs per 100000 people in rural Gabon. INTERPRETATION: Loiasis, with the pathognomonic sign of eye worm migration, appears to not be benign, but severely impeding to affected individuals. Furthermore, loiasis is associated with substantial morbidity, comparable to that of other neglected tropical parasitic diseases. These findings call for reconsideration of L loa as a relevant pathogen in affected populations, with a need for more concerted research and control of these infections. FUNDING: Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy of Austria, and the European Union.

published proceedings

  • Lancet Infect Dis

altmetric score

  • 37.75

author list (cited authors)

  • Veletzky, L., Hergeth, J., Stelzl, D. R., Mischlinger, J., Manego, R. Z., Mombo-Ngoma, G., ... Ramharter, M.

citation count

  • 18

complete list of authors

  • Veletzky, Luzia||Hergeth, Jennifer||Stelzl, Daniel R||Mischlinger, Johannes||Manego, Rella Zoleko||Mombo-Ngoma, Ghyslain||McCall, Matthew BB||Adegnika, Ayôla A||Agnandji, Selidji T||Metzger, Wolfram G||Matsiegui, Pierre B||Lagler, Heimo||Mordmüller, Benjamin||Budke, Christine||Ramharter, Michael

publication date

  • November 2020