News / Health

Pills Offer New Hope in Fight Against Yaws

Study finds oral antibiotic as effective as penicillin

Azithromycin in pill form appears to be as effective in treating yaws, a neglected tropical disease, as the current standard treatment of penicillin injections.
Azithromycin in pill form appears to be as effective in treating yaws, a neglected tropical disease, as the current standard treatment of penicillin injections.

Multimedia

Audio
Art Chimes

Scientists have found that a medicine taken in pill form is just as effective in treating the neglected tropical disease yaws as the usual treatment, a shot of penicillin.

The easier-to-use therapy raises new hope for the eradication of the disease.

Yaws is a disease affecting mostly poor children in the tropics. It eats away at skin, cartilage, and bone, affecting an estimated half-million youngsters in Africa, Asia, and South America.



The standard treatment is penicillin, which can be very effective, and an international program nearly eradicated the disease in the 1950s and '60s. But in recent years yaws has reemerged, in part because many infected children don't show any symptoms, and so don't get penicillin.

"For every one case of active yaws that we see, the estimates are that there's up to eight cases of children infected with the yaws organism who don't present because they don't have symptoms at the time," says researcher Russell Hays, a physician at the remote Lihir Medical Center in Papua New Guinea. "And so for that reason, just treating active cases when they come up will never eliminate the disease."

Hays and his colleagues wanted to see if another antibiotic would work as well against yaws, one that would be easier to use in a mass-treatment program.

While penicillin is effective, it also has its downsides: it requires syringes and trained health workers to inject the drug, the needles must be properly disposed of to prevent possible transmission of other disease, and there is a risk of an allergic reaction.

In a study of about 250 children, half got penicillin injections, the others got azithromycin in pill form.

After six months, the results were similar for each group: nearly all children were cured in both groups, and no serious side effects were reported.

But Hays, whose research appears in The Lancet, says this alone isn't enough to switch to the azithromycin pills.

"From our point of view, we feel that the next logical step is to conduct a mass drug administration of azithromycin in a limited setting, and to then follow up that population and see if we can demonstrate that yaws can be eliminated from a particular location."

In a commentary, also in The Lancet, tropical disease expert David Mabey, of the London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, agrees with the need for more research. But he also worries that the yaws bacteria might develop resistance to azithromycin.

You May Like

Video Report: Minneapolis Man Was 2nd American Killed in Syria

Local television report says Abdirahman Muhumed left the area to fight for Islamic State militants More

WHO Fears Ebola Outbreak Could Infect 20,000 People

World Health Organization says outbreak 'continues to accelerate' but that most cases are concentrated in a few local areas More

Angelina Jolie Marries Brad Pitt

Actors wed in small private ceremony Saturday in France More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implanti
X
August 27, 2014 4:53 PM
A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. VOA News reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Northern California Quake: No Way to Know When Next One Will Hit

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocked northern California’s Napa Valley on Sunday. Roads twisted and water mains burst. It was the wine country’s most severe quake in 15 years, and while hospitals treated many people, no one was killed. Arash Arabasadi has more from Washington on what the future may hold for those residents living on a fault line.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.

AppleAndroid