NTD Experts Push Forward On Plan To Eradicate Yaws

Yaws, a skin and bone disease caused by a treponematoses bacterium that can cause long-term deformities, “has recently been put on WHO’s list of 17 so-called neglected tropical diseases (NTDs)” and, along with Guinea worm, is “slated for eradication,” the Lancet reports. A “massive push to free the world from yaws failed in the 1950s and 1960s,” and the WHO in 1995 estimated “there were 2.5 million cases of endemic treponematoses (mostly yaws),” according to the Lancet. A study published in the Lancet in January showed a single dose of the antibiotic azithromycin was effective at curing the disease among children, a finding that “jump-started the NTD community into action,” the article states.

Experts met in March outside of Geneva to develop an eradication plan “that calls for a single dose of azithromycin to be given to entire populations in areas known to harbor yaws,” with a deadline of 2020, the Lancet notes. Support for the plan was unanimous, but the experts raised several concerns over the plan, including whether political will and funding could be sustained and the possibility of the development of antibiotic resistance, according to the article (Maurice, 4/14).