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NoME Chapter 10: Session 869, July 30, 1979 2/24 (8%) evolutionary onchocerciasis leathery blindness dutch

[... 20 paragraphs ...]

  1. The disease Seth referred to is onchocerciasis, which is caused by a filarial parasite spread by the bite of the blackfly. In his passing reference to it, Seth didn’t mention that besides producing the gruesome leathery skin, onchocerciasis can cause blindness — hence its common name, river blindness. This most serious affliction appears to be centered in West Africa, and infects many millions of people there. Four centuries ago, it was carried to the Western Hemisphere by slaves, and is now found in certain areas of Mexico, south to Brazil.

Onchocerciasis doesn’t kill, and the percentage of victims who lose their sight varies according to location. We’d like to get more data from Seth on the experimental evolutionary aspects of the blindness, however, since we don’t understand how such a debilitating state could really lead to something better. (Perhaps in this particular biological experiment, the blindness represents an evolutionary dead end, in those terms.) We may ask Seth to elaborate before he finishes Mass Events.

[... 2 paragraphs ...]

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