Skip to main content

Human ocular onchocerciasis caused by Onchocerca lupi (Spirurida, Onchocercidae) in Iran

  • G. Mowlavi (a1), F. Farzbod (a2), A. Kheirkhah (a2), I. Mobedi (a1), D.D. Bowman (a3) and S.R. Naddaf (a4)...

Cases of canine onchocerciasis caused by Onchocerca lupi are increasingly reported from Europe and the western United States of America. The zoonotic role of this parasite had already been suspected in Europe as the clinical signs and histopathology seen in two ocular cases from Albania and the Crimean region were very similar to those of canine ocular onchocerciasis. In the most recent reports of human onchocerciasis, O. lupi has been morphologically and molecularly identified as the causative agent of ocular infestation in two patients from Turkey, and one patient from Tunisia. Here, we report an additional case of nodular lesions involving two, and possibly more, immature worms in a patient from Iran. The parasite was found to belong to the genus Onchocerca based on morphological features and the species was confirmed as O. lupi from a partial sequence analysis of 12S ribosomal DNA.

Corresponding author
* E-mail:
Hide All
Ali-Khan Z. (1977) Tissue pathology and comparative microanatomy of Onchocerca from a resident of Ontario and other enzootic Onchocerca species from Canada and the U.S.A. Annals of Tropical Medicine and Parasitology 71, 469482.
Azari-Hamidian S., Yaghoobi-Ershadi M.R., Javadian E., Abai M.R., Mobedi I., Linton Y.M. & Harbach R.E. (2009) Distribution and ecology of mosquitoes in a focus of dirofilariasis in northwestern Iran, with the first finding of filarial larvae in naturally infected local mosquitoes. Medical and Veterinary Entomology 23, 111121.
Azarova N.S., Miretskii O. & Sonin M.D. (1965) First case of human infection by the nematode Onchocerca Diesing, 1841 in the USSR. Meditsinskaia Parazitologiia i Parazitarnye Bolezni 34, 156158(in Russian).
Beaver P.C., Horner G.S. & Bilos J.Z. (1974) Zoonotic onchocercosis in a resident of Illinois and observations on the identification of Onchocerca species. American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 23, 595607.
Beaver P.C., Yoshimura H., Takayasu S., Hashimoto H. & Little M.D. (1989) Zoonotic Onchocerca in a Japanese child. American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 40, 298300.
Burr W.E. Jr, Brown M.F. & Eberhard M.L. (1998) Zoonotic Onchocerca (Nematoda: Filarioidea) in the cornea of a Colorado resident. Ophthalmology 105, 14941497.
Crosskey R.W. (2002) A taxonomic account of blackfly fauna of Iraq and Iran, including keys for species identification (Diptera: Simuliidae). Journal of Natural History 36, 18411886.
Eberhard M.L., Ortega Y., Dial S., Schiller C.A., Sears A.W. & Greiner E. (2000) Ocular Onchocerca infections in two dogs in western United States. Veterinary Parasitology 90, 333338.
Egyed Z., Sreter T., Szell Z., Beszteri B., Oravecz O., Marialigeti K. & Varga I. (2001) Morphologic and genetic characterization of Onchocerca lupi infecting dogs. Veterinary Parasitology 102, 309319.
Egyed Z., Sreter T., Szell Z., Nyiro G., Marialigeti K. & Varga I. (2002) Molecular phylogenetic analysis of Onchocerca lupi and its Wolbachia endosymbiont. Veterinary Parasitology 108, 153161.
Fallah Tafti M.R., Hajilary A., Siatiri H., Rokni M.B., Mobedi I. & Mowlavi G. (2010) Ocular dirofilariasis, a case report. Iranian Journal of Parasitology 5, 6468.
Fukuda M., Otsuka Y., Uni S., Bain O. & Takaoka H. (2010a) Genetic evidence for the presence of two species of Onchocerca from the wild boar in Japan. Parasite 17, 3337.
Fukuda M., Otsuka Y., Uni S., Bain O. & Takaoka H. (2010b) Molecular identification of infective larvae of three species of Onchocerca found in wild-caught females of Simulium bidentatum in Japan. Parasite 17, 3945.
Fukuda M., Otsuka Y., Uni S., Boda T., Daisaku H., Hasegawa H., Takaoka H. & Bain O. (2011) Zoonotic onchocerciasis in Hiroshima, Japan, and molecular analysis of a paraffin section of the agent for a reliable identification. Parasite 18, 185188.
Gardiner C.H., Dick E.J. Jr, Meininger A.C., Lozano-Alarcon F. & Jackson P. (1993) Onchocerciasis in two dogs. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 203, 828830.
Hashimoto H., Murakami I., Fujiwara S., Takayasu S., Takaoka H., Uga S., Akao N., Kondo K. & Yoshimura H. (1990) A human case of zoonotic onchocerciasis in Japan. Journal of Dermatology 17, 5255.
Hira P.R., Al-Buloushi A., Khalid N., Iqbal J., Bain O. & Eberhard M.L. (2008) Zoonotic filariasis in the Arabian Peninsula: autochthonous onchocerciasis and dirofilariasis. American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 79, 739741.
Jamshidi A., Jamshidi M., Mobedi I. & Khosroara M. (2008) Periocular dirofilariasis in a young woman: a case report. Korean Journal of Parasitology 46, 265267.
Koehsler M., Soleiman A., Aspock H., Auer H. & Walochnik J. (2007) Onchocerca jakutensis filariasis in humans. Emerging Infectious Diseases 13, 17491752.
Labelle A.L., Daniels J.B., Dix M. & Labelle P. (2011) Onchocerca lupi causing ocular disease in two cats. Veterinary Ophthalmology 14 (Suppl. 1), 105110.
Mirzayans A. & Maghsoodloo H. (1977) Filarial infection of Equidae in the Tehran area of Iran. Tropical Animal Health and Production 9, 1920.
Morales-Hojas R., Cheke R.A. & Post R.J. (2006) Molecular systematics of five Onchocerca species (Nematoda: Filarioidea) including the human parasite, O. volvulus, suggest sympatric speciation. Journal of Helminthology 80, 281290.
Orihel T.C., Ash L.R., Holshuh H.J. & Santenelli S. (1991) Onchocerciasis in a California dog. American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 44, 513517.
Otranto D. & Eberhard M.L. (2011) Zoonotic helminths affecting the human eye. Parasites & Vectors 4, 41.
Otranto D., Sakru N., Testini G., Gurlu V.P., Yakar K., Lia R.P., Dantas-Torres F. & Bain O. (2011) Case report: First evidence of human zoonotic infection by Onchocerca lupi (Spirurida, Onchocercidae). American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 84, 5558.
Otranto D., Dantas-Torres F., Cebeci Z., Yeniad B., Buyukbabani N., Boral O.B., Gustinelli A., Mounir T., Mutafchiev Y. & Bain O. (2012a) Human ocular filariasis: further evidence on the zoonotic role of Onchocerca lupi. Parasites & Vectors 5, 84.
Otranto D., Dantas-Torres F., Papadopoulos E., Petric D., Cupina A.I. & Bain O. (2012b) Tracking the vector of Onchocerca lupi in a rural area of Greece. Emerging Infectious Diseases 18, 11961200.
Pampiglione S., Vakalis N., Lyssimachou A., Kouppari G. & Orihel T.C. (2001) Subconjunctival zoonotic Onchocerca in an Albanian man. Annals of Tropical Medicine and Parasitology 95, 827832.
Ranjbar-Bahadori S., Veshgini A., Shirani D., Eslami A., Mohieddin H., Shemshadi B. & Masooleh R. (2011) Epidemiological aspects of canine dirofilariasis in the north of Iran. Iranian Journal of Parasitology 6, 7380.
Richards F.O. Jr, Boatin B., Sauerbrey M. & Seketeli A. (2001a) Control of onchocerciasis today: status and challenges. Trends in Parasitology 17, 558563.
Richards F.O. Jr, Miri E.S., Katabarwa M., Eyamba A., Sauerbrey M., Zea-Flores G., Korve K., Mathai W., Homeida M.A., Mueller I., Hilyer E. & Hopkins D.R. (2001b) The Carter Center's assistance to river blindness control programs: establishing treatment objectives and goals for monitoring ivermectin delivery systems on two continents. American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 65, 108114.
Sallo F., Eberhard M.L., Fok E., Baska F. & Hatvani I. (2005) Zoonotic intravitreal Onchocerca in Hungary. Ophthalmology 112, 502504.
Siegenthaler R. & Gubler R. (1965) Para-articular nematode granuloma (Indigenous Onchocerca). Schweizerische medizinische Wochenschrift 95, 11021104(in German).
Sreter T. & Szell Z. (2008) Onchocercosis: a newly recognized disease in dogs. Veterinary Parasitology 151, 113.
Sreter T., Szell Z., Egyed Z. & Varga I. (2002) Subconjunctival zoonotic onchocerciasis in man: aberrant infection with Onchocerca lupi? Annals of Tropical Medicine and Parasitology 96, 497502.
Sreter-Lancz Z., Szell Z. & Sreter T. (2007) Molecular genetic comparison of Onchocerca sp. infecting dogs in Europe with other spirurid nematodes including Onchocerca lienalis. Veterinary Parasitology 148, 365370.
Szell Z., Sreter T., Erdelyi I. & Varga I. (2001) Ocular onchocercosis in dogs: aberrant infection in an accidental host or lupi onchocercosis? Veterinary Parasitology 101, 115125.
Takaoka H., Bain O., Tajimi S., Kashima K., Nakayama I., Korenaga M., Aoki C. & Otsuka Y. (1996) Second case of zoonotic Onchocerca infection in a resident of Oita in Japan. Parasite 3, 179182.
Takaoka H., Bain O., Uni S., Korenaga M., Tada K., Ichikawa H., Otsuka Y. & Eshita Y. (2001) Human infection with Onchocerca dewittei japonica, a parasite from wild boar in Oita, Japan. Parasite 8, 261263.
Takaoka H., Bain O., Uni S., Korenaga M., Kozek W.J., Shirasaka C., Aoki C., Otsuka Y., Fukuda M., Eshita Y. & Daa T. (2004) Zoonotic onchocerciasis caused by a parasite from wild boar in Oita, Japan. A comprehensive analysis of morphological characteristics of the worms for its diagnosis. Parasite 11, 285292.
Takaoka H., Yanagi T., Daa T., Anzai S., Aoki C., Fukuda M., Uni S. & Bain O. (2005) An Onchocerca species of wild boar found in the subcutaneous nodule of a resident of Oita, Japan. Parasitology International 54, 9193.
Takaoka H., Fukuda M., Otsuka Y., Aoki C., Uni S. & Bain O. (2012) Blackfly vectors of zoonotic onchocerciasis in Japan. Medical and Veterinary Entomology 26, 372378.
Tamura K., Peterson D., Peterson N., Stecher G., Nei M. & Kumar S. (2011) MEGA5: molecular evolutionary genetics analysis using maximum likelihood, evolutionary distance, and maximum parsimony methods. Molecular Biology and Evolution 28, 27312739.
Wright R.W., Neafie R.C., McLean M. & Markman A.W. (2002) Zoonotic onchocerciasis of the shoulder. A case report. Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery 84-A, 627629.
Yankovsky A.V. (2010) On the fauna of blackflies (Diptera: Simuliidae) of Iran. Entomological Review 90, 10791087.
Zarfoss M.K., Dubielzig R.R., Eberhard M.L. & Schmidt K.S. (2005) Canine ocular onchocerciasis in the United States: two new cases and a review of the literature. Veterinary Ophthalmology 8, 5157.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of Helminthology
  • ISSN: 0022-149X
  • EISSN: 1475-2697
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-helminthology
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 5
Total number of PDF views: 22 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 212 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 23rd November 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.