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

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid