Stopping mass antibiotic treatment in Ethiopia ‘unrealistic’

A seven-year trial has found that childhood eye infection rates increased after an antibiotic distribution programme ended


New research has found that the mass distribution of the antibiotic, azithromycin, in northern Ethiopia is effective in preventing the reoccurrence of trachoma but does not eliminate infection entirely.

The study, which was published in PLOS Medicine, involved 3938 children in 48 northern Ethiopian communities who participated in a four-year trachoma prevention trial of either annual or semi-annual antibiotic treatment.

Within the study group, patients either continued on annual or semi-annual treatment or ceased treatment.

They were then observed for between three and five years and assessed for ocular chlamydia.

The condition continued to be present in communities that received antibiotic treatment, although at a lower rate than in patient groups who ceased treatment.

The authors concluded that stopping antibiotic treatment in severely affected areas is not realistic, and alternative strategies for trachoma elimination may be required in the most severely affected areas.