The impact of Merowe Dam on Simulium hamedense vector of onchocerciasis in Abu Hamed focus - Northern Sudan

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Elaagip, Arwa
Zarroug, Isam MA
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University of Khartoum
Background: Abu Hamed, the northernmost onchocerciasis focus in the world, is located along the River Nile banks in the Nubian Desert. Hydroelectric dams can alter activity of black flies and may provide breeding sites for black fly. Merowe Dam, the largest hydropower project in Africa, was built west of Abu Hamed focus in 2009. The impact of the Dam on onchocerciasis and its black fly vectors in Abu Hamed focus was measured in this study. Findings: Entomological surveys for aquatic stages and adult Simulium hamedense were conducted before and after the inception of Merowe Dam in 2007/2008 and 2010/2011. There was no black fly breeding or adult activity in the previously known breeding sites upstream of the Merowe Dam with the western most breeding site found in AlSarsaf village near the center of the focus. No adult or aquatic stages of black flies were found downstream of the Dam. Conclusions: The artificial lake of the Dam flooded all the breeding sites in the western region of the focus and no aquatic stages and/or adult black fly activity were established in the study area upstream of the Dam. The Dam seems to have positive impact on onchocerciasis and its black fly vectors in Abu Hamed focus. These outcomes of the Merowe Dam might have contributed to the recently declared interruption of onchocerciasis transmission in Abu Hamed focus. Continuous entomological surveys are needed to monitor presence of black fly vectors and its impact on the disease
Onchocerciasis, Elimination, Merowe Dam, Abu Hamed focus, Simulium hamedense, Sudan