Mass Antibiotics Can Eliminate Infectious Trachoma

February 19, 2008

In rural Ethiopian villages severely affected by ocular chlamydial infections that cause trachoma, mass antibiotic distribution can eliminate the infections. But biannual distribution may be the most effective strategy, according to the results of a study published in the Feb. 20 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

TUESDAY, Feb. 19 (HealthDay News) -- In rural Ethiopian villages severely affected by ocular chlamydial infections that cause trachoma, mass antibiotic distribution can eliminate the infections. But biannual distribution may be the most effective strategy, according to the results of a study published in the Feb. 20 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Muluken Melese, M.D., of Orbis International in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and colleagues randomly assigned 16,403 residents of 16 rural villages in Ethiopia to receive a single dose of oral azithromycin either annually or biannually between March 2003 and April 2005.

In villages that received annual treatment, the researchers found that infection prevalence in preschool children decreased from 42.6 percent to 6.8 percent. In villages receiving biannual treatment, the prevalence decreased from 31.6 percent to 0.9 percent. After two years, the investigators found that infection elimination was complete in six of eight villages treated biannually compared to one of eight villages treated annually.

"Further work to validate or refine these models is required to determine the applicability of these results in settings with different transmission dynamics, population mobility and antibiotic uptake," state the authors of an accompanying editorial. "It will also be important to investigate the relative advantages and disadvantages that biannual treatment might have when applied in large populations."

The authors of the editorial report a relationship with Pfizer.

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