Lymphatic filariasis (LF) and onchocerciasis are parasitic nematode infections that are responsible for a major disease burden in the African continent. Disease symptoms are induced by the immune reactions of the host, with lymphoedema and hydrocoele in LF, and dermatitis and ocular inflammation in onchocerciasis. Wuchereria bancrofti and Onchocerca volvulus, the species causing LF and onchocerciasis in Africa, live in mutual symbiosis with Wolbachia endobacteria, which cause a major part of the inflammation leading to symptoms and are antibiotic targets for treatment. The standard microfilaricidal drugs ivermectin and albendazole are used in mass drug administration programmes, with the aim of interrupting transmission, with a consequent reduction in the burden of infection and, in some situations, leading to regional elimination of LF and onchocerciasis. Co-endemicity of Loa loa with W. bancrofti or O. volvulus is an impediment to mass drug administration with ivermectin and albendazole, owing to the risk of encephalopathy being encountered upon administration of ivermectin. Research into new treatment options is exploring several improved delivery strategies for the classic drugs or new antibiotic treatment regimens for anti-wolbachial chemotherapy.
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