The burden of trachoma in Ayod County of Southern Sudan.
BACKGROUND: Blindness due to trachoma is avoidable through Surgery, Antibiotics, Facial hygiene and Environmental improvements (SAFE). Recent surveys have shown trachoma to be a serious cause of blindness in Southern Sudan. We conducted this survey in Ayod County of Jonglei State to estimate the need for intervention activities to eliminate blinding trachoma.
METHODOLOGY AND FINDINGS: A cross-sectional two-stage cluster random survey was conducted in November 2006. All residents of selected households were clinically assessed for trachoma using the World Health Organization (WHO) simplified grading scheme. A total of 2,335 people from 392 households were examined, of whom 1,107 were over 14 years of age. Prevalence of signs of active trachoma in children 1-9 years of age was: trachomatous inflammation follicular (TF) = 80.1% (95% confidence interval [CI], 73.9-86.3); trachomatous inflammation intense (TI) = 60.7% (95% CI, 54.6-66.8); and TF and/or TI (active trachoma) = 88.3% (95% CI, 83.7-92.9). Prevalence of trachomatous trichiasis (TT) was 14.6% (95% CI, 10.9-18.3) in adults over 14 years of age; 2.9% (95% CI, 0.4-5.3) in children 1-14 years of age; and 8.4% (95% CI, 5.5-11.3) overall. The prevalence of corneal opacity in persons over 14 years of age with TT was 6.4% (95% CI, 4.5-8.3). No statistically significant difference was observed in the prevalence of trachoma signs between genders. Trachoma affected almost all households surveyed: 384/392 (98.0%) had at least one person with active trachoma and 130 (33.2%) had at least one person with trichiasis.
CONCLUSIONS: Trachoma is an unnecessary public health problem in Ayod. The high prevalence of active trachoma and trichiasis confirms the severe burden of blinding trachoma found in other post-conflict areas of Southern Sudan. Based on WHO recommended thresholds, all aspects of the SAFE strategy are indicated to eliminate blinding trachoma in Ayod.