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J Infect Dis. 2011 Jul 15;204(2):268-73. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jir257.

Number of years of annual mass treatment with azithromycin needed to control trachoma in hyper-endemic communities in Tanzania.

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Department of Opthalmology, Dana Center for Preventive Ophthalmology, Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Baltimore, MD, USA.



The World Health Organization recommends mass treatment as part of a trachoma control strategy. However, scant empirical data from hyperendemic communities exist on the number of rounds of treatment needed to reach a goal of <5% prevalence in children. We determined the prevalence of trachoma and infection with Chlamydia trachomatis in communities after 3-7 years of annual mass treatment in Tanzania.


Seventy-one communities with trachoma and annual azithromycin coverage data were enrolled. A cross-sectional survey of ≥100 randomly selected children aged <5 years in each community was performed. Children were examined for clinical trachoma, and swab samples were taken for determination of ocular C. trachomatis infection.


After 3 years of mass treatment, the prevalence of trachoma decreased in a linear fashion with number of years of mass treatment, whereas decreased prevalences of C. trachomatis infection were related to the extent of the previous year's azithromycin coverage. Our model suggests that, for communities with baseline trachoma prevalence of 50% and annual treatment coverage of 75%, >7 years of annual mass treatment will be needed to reach a prevalence of trachoma of <5%.


Country programs in trachoma-endemic regions must realistically expect that several years of annual mass treatment may be necessary to eliminate trachoma.

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