Facial cleanliness can now be a part of the control strategy for trachoma. The repeated eye infections are caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis, reveals a new study.// The research team reported in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases have shown that properly trained graders can reliably reproduce assessments of facial cleanliness.
‘Facial cleanliness can help asses a child's face for the presence or absence of nasal and ocular discharge.’The findings suggest that measures of facial cleanliness can be added to trachoma surveys in the developing countries where the infection is a public health problem.
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Trachoma is the leading infectious cause of blindness worldwide and is a known public health problem in rural areas of 41 countries of Africa, Central and South America, Asia, Australia and the Middle East.
The elimination strategy is encapsulated by the acronym "SAFE": Surgery for advanced disease, Antibiotics to clear infections, Facial cleanliness and Environmental improvement.
In the new work, Sheila West of Johns Hopkins University, and colleagues trained seven staff in Tanzania, with a variety of educational backgrounds, on how to assess the presence and absence of nasal and ocular discharge on children's faces.
Then, sixty children ages 1 through 7 were evaluated by the graders at two time points, approximately 50 minute apart for presence or absence of a clean face.
"As long as training is provided, the estimate of clean faces in children should be reliable, and reflect the effort of families to keep ocular and nasal discharge off the faces," the authors say.