Onchocerciasis among Ethiopian immigrants in Israel

Claes D. Enk*, Irene Anteby, Nitza Abramson, Radgonde Amer, Yair Amit, Tamar Bergshtein-Kronhaus, Evelyne Cohen, Zalman Greenberg, Flory Jonas, Shlomo Maayan, Esther Marva, Uri Strauss, David BenEzra

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Background: Onchocerciasis results from infestation by the nematode Onchocerca volvulus, and is characterized clinically by troublesome itching, skin lesions and eye manifestations. Since 1992, approximately 9,000 immigrants have arrived in Israel from the Kuwara province of northwest Ethiopia where the prevalence of onchocerciasis is particularly high. Objectives: To determine whether onchocerciasis is the cause of cutaneous and ocular symptoms among recent immigrants from the Kuwara province in Ethiopia. Methods: We examined 1,200 recent immigrants from the Kuwara province residing at the Mevasseret Zion immigration center outside Jerusalem. Among them, patients with cutaneous signs suggestive of onchocerciasis underwent a skin-snip biopsy and a thorough eye examination. Results: In the detailed skin examination performed in 83 patients, the most common skin finding was chronic papular onchodermatitis, found in more than 46 patients (55%); depigmentation and atrophy was found in 13 (15%) and 12 (14%), respectively. In 40 patients (48%), living microfilaria were detected in their skin snips. Of the 65 patients who underwent a thorough eye examination, 45 patients (66%) had ocular complaints. Comeal abnormalities were found in 55 of the 130 eyes (42%), active anterior segment intraocular inflammation and live microfilariae were found in 4 eyes (3%) and lens changes in 16 eyes (1%). Eleven eyes (9%) showed retinal or choroidal changes. Conclusions: Skin and eye manifestations associated with onchocerciasis are prevalent among symptomatic Ethiopians who immigrated to Israel from the Kuwara province.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)485-488
Number of pages4
JournalIsrael Medical Association Journal
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Ethiopian immigrants
  • Eye manifestations
  • Israel
  • Onchocerciasis
  • Onchodermatitis


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