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A Longitudinal Analysis of Chlamydial Infection and Trachomatous Inflammation Following Mass Azithromycin Distribution.

Abstract

Mass azithromycin distributions are effective for clearing ocular strains of Chlamydia trachomatis, yet infection frequently returns in areas with hyperendemic trachoma. A better understanding of the factors associated with chlamydial reinfection could be helpful to plan trachoma elimination strategies.

This was a prospective cohort study conducted in a trachoma-hyperendemic region of Ethiopia in 2003. As part of a larger cluster-randomized trial, 21 villages were treated with a single mass azithromycin distribution and all children 5 years and younger were monitored for ocular chlamydia and clinically active trachoma at baseline and at 2 and 6 months following the treatment.

In 20 villages with available data, azithromycin treatment coverage was 88.7% (95% confidence interval [CI] 85.7-91.8%). In total, 1005 children tested negative for ocular chlamydia at the 2-month visit, of whom 41 became infected by 6 months (1.0 incident chlamydia infections per 100 person-months, 95%CI 0.7-1.4). The presence of intense trachomatous inflammation (TI) at baseline was associated with incident infection at 6 months (incidence rate ratio 1.91, 95%CI 1.03-3.55). Ocular chlamydia infections clustered more within households than communities: (intraclass correlation coefficient 0.01 for communities and 0.29 for households six months posttreatment). Younger children were more likely to have persistent clinically active trachoma (P = 0.03).

More intensive antibiotic distributions may be warranted for younger children, for children with TI, and for households containing children with ocular chlamydia infections.

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