Association between Ocular Bacterial Carriage and Follicular Trachoma Following Mass Azithromycin Distribution in The Gambia

Sarah E. Burr, John D. Hart, Tansy Edwards, Ignatius Baldeh, Ebrima Bojang, Emma M. Harding-Esch, Martin J. Holland, Thomas M. Lietman, Sheila K. West, David C.W. Mabey, Ansumana Sillah, Robin L. Bailey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background:Trachoma, caused by ocular Chlamydia trachomatis infection, is the leading infectious cause of blindess, but its prevalence is now falling in many countries. As the prevalence falls, an increasing proportion of individuals with clinical signs of follicular trachoma (TF) is not infected with C. trachomatis. A recent study in Tanzania suggested that other bacteria may play a role in the persistence of these clinical signs.Methodology/Principal Findings:We examined associations between clinical signs of TF and ocular colonization with four pathogens commonly found in the nasopharnyx, three years after the initiation of mass azithromycin distribution. Children aged 0 to 5 years were randomly selected from 16 Gambian communitites. Both eyes of each child were examined and graded for trachoma according to the World Health Organization (WHO) simplified system. Two swabs were taken from the right eye: one swab was processed for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) using the Amplicor test for detection of C. trachomatis DNA and the second swab was processed by routine bacteriology to assay for the presence of viable Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, Staphylococcus aureus and Moraxella catarrhalis. Prevalence of TF was 6.2% (96/1538) while prevalence of ocular C. trachomatis infection was 1.0% (16/1538). After adjustment, increased odds of TF were observed in the presence of C. trachomatis (OR = 10.4, 95%CI 1.32-81.2, p = 0.03), S. pneumoniae (OR = 2.14, 95%CI 1.03-4.44, p = 0.04) and H. influenzae (OR = 4.72, 95% CI 1.53-14.5, p = 0.01).Conclusions/Significance:Clinical signs of TF can persist in communities even when ocular C. trachomatis infection has been controlled through mass azithromycin distribution. In these settings, TF may be associated with ocular colonization with bacteria commonly carried in the nasopharnyx. This may affect the interpretation of impact surveys and the determinations of thresholds for discontinuing mass drug administration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2347
JournalPLoS neglected tropical diseases
Volume7
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases

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