Trachoma is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. Chlamydia trachomatis is one of four major bacterial species within the genus Chlamydia, which is a pathogenic bacteria.
Trachoma is found in many parts of the underdeveloped and poverty-stricken parts of the international community, especially in Africa and the Arabian peninsula. Countries such as Oman, Saudi Arabia, Ghana, and Mexico have announced that the disease is almost completely eliminated, but countries such as Yemen, Sudan, and Kenya, the disease still remains a prevalent problem communities must deal with. This disease does not only affect the underdeveloped world, though, as Australia, in 2008, found few cases of trachoma in their most remote locations throughout the Outback at endemic levels. Though a great portion of the international community deals with this major bacterial problem, the World Health Organization has announced that it will try to completely eliminate trachoma as a public health problem by 2020.
The symptoms last for 5-12 days and give an irritation similar to “pink eye.” Other symptoms include eye discharge, swollen eyelids, swelling of the lymph nodes, sensitivity to bright lights, increased heart rates, and complications with the ears, nose, and throat. For children, a type of trachoma called “active trachoma” can be seen and give white lumps in the undersurface of the upper eyelid, which can lead to more irritation and eye discharge. Eventually, trachoma begins scarring the cornea, which leads into partial or complete loss of vision. In order to see properly, it is necessary that the cornea remains clear.
Trachoma is completely preventable and treatable. Water, insect, and latrine control as well as facial cleanliness can help prevent the spread of the illness. A decrease in proximity to domesticated animals can also help prevent trachoma from spreading to humans. Otherwise, there are still antibiotics that treats trachoma. Azithromycin and topical tetracycline easily treat the disease, but Azithromycin is the preferred choice because it is a single-pill oral dose. If the disease becomes too advanced, surgery is an option as well through a bilamellar tarsal rotation procedure.
The environment plays a major role in the spread of the disease. In many and most of the affected nations, sanitary conditions are difficult to come by. Storms may wipe away latrines and water is difficult to keep cleanly. Understandably, it is also difficult to teach the local people of those respective nations specific lifestyle measures to prevent the spread of trachoma, especially since many have not received any type of formal education. Through intergovernmental organizations such as the National Health Organization, these individuals are being taught and are learning how to prevent the spread of deadly and dangerous infectious diseases such as trachoma.