Medicine: The Fly That Blinds

In the fertile valley of French Equatorial Africa's Mayo-Kebbi River the cotton fields lay untended, and the sun beat down upon hundreds of deserted huts. Where some 40,000 Africans had once lived and worked, only a handful were to be seen, and they were mostly blind. Nearly everyone had fled the valley before the terror of the "Nbwa," the fly that blinds.

The Nbwa fly (Simulium damnosum) has long been the scourge of French Equatorial Africa, where it breeds along the rivers. When it bites, the fly injects a microorganism that causes onchocerciasis, a...

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