Dr. Jean Hissette’s Research Expeditions to Elucidate River Blindnessvon Guido Kluxen
In 1930, Dr. Jean Hissette chanced on the discovery of his life. He was the first to discover African River Blindness. This severe eye disease occurs in people affected by onchocerciasis, a filarial worm infection. Onchocerciasis had already been known for a long time. However, until 1930 no other specialist in tropical diseases had ever identified these severely afflicted blind people anywhere in Africa. The infectious life cycle of the parasite involves two hosts – humans and black-flies. The fly lays its eggs in the water of fast-flowing rivers, thus giving the disease its name. Only the females were found to bite, and biting occurs during the day. This is the story of the discoverer of African River Blindness: Dr. Jean Hissette (1888-1965).