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[afro-nets] Mass Antibiotic Treatment Could Eliminate Blindness

Yearly Mass Antibiotic Treatment Could Eliminate Leading Cause
of Blindness

12 October 2005
The Lancet

Giving communities with high levels of Chlamydia trachomatis
yearly mass antibiotic treatment over a few years could be suf-
ficient to eliminate eye infection caused by the bacterium, sug-
gests an article in this week's issue of The Lancet.

Chlamydia trachomatis causes trachoma, an infection of the eyes
that may result in blindness after repeated re-infection. Tra-
choma is the world's leading cause of blindness. Previous stud-
ies have suggested that eye infection with C. trachomatis could
be eliminated after one mass treatment with antibiotics.

However, Sheila West (The Johns Hopkins School University, Bal-
timore, MD, USA) and colleagues found that in an area of Tanza-
nia with high levels of the bacterium, mass treatment signifi-
cantly reduced the prevalence of infection in the community but
infection re-emerged after 1-year.

Professor West states: The findings of our community based study
show that antibiotic coverage as high as 86% decreases, but does
not eliminate, ocular infection with C. trachomatis over 18
months. Trachoma and infectious load began to rise 12 months af-
ter treatment, suggesting that yearly mass treatment for this
community would be effective.

Leela McCullough, Ed.D.
Director of Information Services
30 California Street, Watertown, MA 02472, USA
Tel: +1-617-926-9400
Fax: +1-617-926-1212

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