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Bull World Health Organ. 1985;63(3):559-67.

The ecology of trachoma: an epidemiological study in southern Mexico.


A total of 1097 people in two communities in Chiapas, Mexico, were examined for trachoma, and information was obtained about personal and family hygiene. Trachoma was hyperendemic; approximately 25% of those under 10 years old were found to have significant inflammatory trachoma and almost 100% of those aged over 40 years had cicatricial trachoma, although the prevalence of trachoma differed significantly between the two communities. Risk factor analysis was performed by contingency table analysis and chi(2) testing. The most important parameter associated with the occurrence and severity of inflammatory trachoma in children was the frequency of face washing. Children who washed their faces 7 or more times per week had significantly less trachoma than those who washed less often (chi(2) (2df) = 28.7; P < 0.001). This effect was independent of age, use of clean water and soap, or use of clothes to dry the face. Children who washed infrequently and who used clothes to dry the face or clean the nose were more at risk for trachoma. No parameters of family hygiene or socioeconomic status correlated with the amount of trachoma in a family.These data confirm and quantify for the first time the long-held belief that trachoma is associated with poor personal hygiene and suggest potentially effective and efficient intervention strategies.

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