A doctor examining a possible patient during a charity exercise in Ethopia.
Let’s talk about Trachoma.
As with many other neglected tropical diseases, trachoma is a disease of poverty. It is prevalent in hot, dry and dusty areas where there is a lack of water and sanitation. It particularly affects families, as it passes from mother to child, sibling to sibling.
Trachoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in most African countries. The Amhara province in the Ethiopian highlands has the highest prevalence in the world.
Around the world, Twenty -one million people are affected by
trachoma, an eye infection that can leads to blindness. Trachoma is also sometimes known as sandy blight and is common in African and Asian countries.
More than 50 developing countries throughout Africa and Asia are also affected by trachoma, particularly in rural areas where hygiene tends to be poor.
How can Trachoma be Transmitted?
It is usually transmitted by:
• direct contact such as touching infected eye secretions.
other forms of direct contact such as touching infected nasal or throat secretions
• indirect contact such as touching
contaminated items – for example, towels, sheets, blankets or clothing flies that seek out the eyes.
What are the Symptoms?
• eye irritation, redness and discharge (conjunctivitis)
• swelling of the eyelids
inflammation inside the upper eyelid.
• scarring and distortion of the upper eyelid develops over time from repeated episodes of reinfection.
• abnormal growth of cornea vessels
However, people with trachoma may not experience symptoms and the condition may go unrecognised, unless it is specifically looked for.
Trachoma is linked to poor personal and community hygiene, and is often associated with poverty. Particular risk factors include: inadequate personal hygiene, especially a dirty face, inadequate housing, crowded living conditions, poor water supply. Its major danger is that it can lead to blindness if not treated. It is usually treated using antibiotics and surgical procedures.
I will keep writing about ‘neglected diseases’ which continue to affect people mainly in Africa and Asian countries. With adequate awareness and education, we can work towards preventing and eradicating these diseases.