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Trop Doct. 2010 Apr;40(2):68-9. doi: 10.1258/td.2009.090249.

Resurgence of yaws in Tanna, Vanuatu: time for a new approach?

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  • 1Central Hospital, PO Box 5178, Port Vila, Vanuatu.


Recent reports from the island of Tanna in Vanuatu suggest that yaws has resurged. We carried out a serological and clinical survey to determine the prevalence and clinical presentation of yaws on the island. A total of 306 random serum samples were tested for rapid plasma reagin and rapid diagnostic determine syphilis: 31.04% were positive for one or both tests; 39.8% of children surveyed in three schools had skin lesions consistent with yaws; and there were only two cases of secondary yaws osteitis and no cases of tertiary yaws. These results confirm that the disease has resurged but appears to be attenuated. Intramuscular benzathine penicillin is the currently recommended treatment for yaws. We suggest that a stat dose of oral azithromycin would be a more accessible treatment as it could be prescribed by village health workers and therefore enable yaws control to be more easily incorporated into other primary health-care programmes.

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