I read with interest the introduction paper “Dem Ergründer der Flussblindheit in Afrika auf der Spur” of Raimund Balmes to the book “Dr. Jean Hissette’s Research Expeditions to Elucidate River Blindness” which I have just bought. Must be interesting to read. It tells us about 1930s in Congo with specific interest in discovering the association of “River Blindness” with microfilarial disease – onchocerciasis.
Interestingly, it is stated, that Dr. Hissette (belgian expeditor) is considered to be the first one to ascribe the river blindness to worms parasitosis. At the same time, it is stated, that local people had showed him explicitly, that the tubercles, that many of blind people had had on the skin and the blindness which they had are related to the flies, that cause this. So basically it was all known long time before the white discoverers had even though of going to Congo. However, he came, he saw, he discovered this for the humanity 🙂
It reminds me of “discovering” the Falls which had to be named “Victoria”. Also for the humanity probably. (“Mosi-oa-Tunya”, the native name of the Falls had been known since much longer time ago).
P.S. I never knew that scientists became Nobel Prize in 2015 for Ivermectin (Mectizan). Definitely deserved one.
P.P.S. I never knew as well, that there had never been onchocerciacis in Latin America until it was brought there with Slave Traders in earlier centuries.