KEY FACTS: TRACHOMA

Trachoma

  • Trachoma is an infection caused by the bacterium C. trachomitis.

  • It is the most important cause of infectious blindness worldwide, accounting for approximately 3% of all the world’s cases of blindness.

  • Trachoma spreads from person to person on dirty hands and clothing. The disease is also carried by flies that can carry the Chlamydia bacteria from the eye discharge of one person to another.

  • Women are affected three times more than are men.

  • An estimated $5.3 billion is lost annually from the global disease burden.

  • An innovative strategy of trachoma management and prevention goes by the acronym SAFE–surgery, antibiotics, face washing, and environmental control.

  • A breakthrough in the global control of trachoma was the discovery that a single dose of azithromycin was as effective as 4 to 6 weeks of topical tetracycline. Pfizer, in association with the ITI, is providing large-scale donations of azithromycin (Zithromax) to more than 20 countries where trachoma is endemic.

  • Based on these successes, the International Coalition for Trachoma Control has created 2020 INSight, a global strategic plan for eliminating blinding trachoma by 2020.

(“Forgotten People, Forgotten Diseases”, Peter J Hotez)

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