Yearly mass antibiotic treatment could help eliminate leading cause of blindness

10/05/05

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Giving communities with high levels of Chlamydia trachomatis yearly mass antibiotic treatment over a few years could be sufficient to eliminate eye infection caused by the bacterium, suggests 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. Trachoma is the world's leading cause of blindness. Previous studies 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, Baltimore, MD, USA) and colleagues found that in an area of Tanzania with high levels of the bacterium, mass treatment significantly 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 after treatment, suggesting that yearly mass treatment for this community would be effective."

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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