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June 1991

Facial Cleanliness and Risk of Trachoma in Families

Author Affiliations

From the Dana Center for Preventive Ophthalmology, the Wilmer Eye Institute, The Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, Md (Dr West, Mr Congdon, and Ms Mele); and the Kongwa Primary Eye Health Care Project, Kongwa, United Republic of Tanzania (Mr Katala).

Arch Ophthalmol. 1991;109(6):855-857. doi:10.1001/archopht.1991.01080060119038

• Trachoma is the leading infectious cause of blindness worldwide, and epidemiologic studies of factors that may increase the transmission of ocular Chlamydia trachomatis are needed. In two villages in a hyperendemic area of Central Tanzania, 472 (90%) of 527 preschool-aged children were examined for specific signs of unclean faces and presence of trachoma. The odds of trachoma were 70% higher in children with flies and nasal discharge on their faces. Other facial signs were not important. In large families, the odds of trachoma increased 4.8-fold if a sibling had trachoma and 6.8-fold if a sibling had trachoma and an unclean face. Health education Strategies aimed at improving face washing need to target cleaning nasal discharge and keeping flies off children's faces.

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