Trachoma: Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is trachoma?

Q. What are neglected tropical diseases?

Q. How many countries are endemic with blinding trachoma?

Q. Globally, how many people have blinding trachoma?

Q. How does ITI decide which countries get Zithromax®?

Q. Is Zithromax® safe?

Q. What is the SAFE Strategy?

Q. What is GET 2020?

Q. Can trachoma be eliminated through use of Zithromax® alone?

 

Q. What is trachoma?

A. Trachoma is an infectious eye disease, and the world’s leading cause of preventable blindness. It also is one of the oldest infectious diseases known to man. It is caused by a bacteria called Chlamydia trachomatis – which spreads through contact with eye discharge from the infected person (on towels, handkerchiefs, fingers, etc.) and through transmission by eye-seeking flies. The infection starts in young children and heals after a couple of months. However, after years of repeated infection, the inside of the eyelid may be scarred so severely that the eyelid turns inward and the lashes rub on the eyeball, scarring the cornea (the front clear part of the eye). If untreated, this condition leads to the formation of irreversible corneal opacities and blindness.

AnchorQ. What are neglected tropical diseases?

A. Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are identified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as  primarily infectious diseases that thrive in impoverished settings. Trachoma is a neglected tropical disease. Other NTDs include leprosy, Guinea worm, lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis, soil-transmitted helminths and schistosomiasis. For more information, go to the website of the World Health Organization.

Q. How many countries are endemic with blinding trachoma?

A. Experts believe that blinding trachoma is endemic in 51 countries, primarily in the poorest communities in the developing world.

AnchorQ. Globally, how many people have blinding trachoma?

A. The number of people living in trachoma-endemic districts was estimated to have reduced from 314 million in 2011 to 229 million in 2013. The 2014 estimate for the global population at risk is 232 million, but is based on significantly more data than previous estimates.

Q. How does ITI decide which countries get Zithromax®?

A. The decision is made by the Trachoma Expert Committee (TEC), an independent decision-making body of seven experts that meets twice a year to review country applications for Zithromax®.

Q. Is Zithromax® safe?

A. Yes and safety is always a primary concern. Zithromax® is well tolerated with a low incidence of side effects.

Q. What is the SAFE Strategy?

A. Endorsed by the World Health Organization, the SAFE Strategy combines treatment (Surgery and Antibiotics), with prevention (Facial cleanliness and Environmental improvement).

Q. What is GET 2020?

A. GET 2020 is the Alliance for Global Elimination of Blinding Trachoma by 2020. It is led by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Q. Can trachoma be eliminated through use of Zithromax® alone?

A. No. Elimination of blindness due to trachoma requires all components of the SAFE strategy. People living with advanced stage trachoma (trichiasis) require surgery to avoid immediate blindness. In order to maintain advances made by antibiotic treatment, people in trachoma endemic areas need to keep hygiene and sanitation a priority. Global elimination of blinding trachoma will be achieved and sustained by implementing surgery, distributing antibiotics, and promoting hygiene and sanitation simultaneously.