PATH and Alere brings new tools for neglected tropical diseases. PATH and Standard Diagnostics (SD)/Alere announced the commercial availability of two rapid diagnostic tools for onchocerciasis and lymphatic filariasis. Designed for use in disease surveillance, the antibody-based tests are part of a suite of diagnostic innovations intended to support the elimination of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), a group of illnesses that affect more than a billion people worldwide.
Onchocerciasis, commonly known as river blindness, is caused by a parasitic worm transmitted tohumans through the bite of the blackfly. It causes itching,skin disfiguration, and, with chronic exposure, permanent blindness. Globally, an estimated 169 million people are at risk for river blindness and 37 million are infected. Of those at risk, 99 percent live in Africa. The disease typically affects poor, rural
communities near streams and rivers.
Lymphatic filariasis (LF), the major cause of elephantiasis, is spread by mosquitos and damages the lymphatic system, leading to serious disability, disfigurement, and low quality of life across Africa and some parts of Asia. An estimated 120 million people are infected with LF and 1.23 billion are at risk. Wuchereria bancrofti (Wb) is one of three species of parasitic worms responsible for LF and accounts for 90 percent of the infections globally, including all cases on the African continent.