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India is the first country to be officially acknowledged as being Yaws-free by WHO

India recently received the official citation from WHO and UNICEF for Elimination of Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus and for being YAWS-free.

  • India is the first country to be officially acknowledged as being Yaws-free.
  • India was validated for Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus Elimination (MNTE) in April 2015, much ahead of the global target date of December 2015.

Yaws – key facts:
  • Yaws is a chronic disfiguring and debilitating childhood infectious disease caused by Treponema pallidum subspecies pertenue.
  • It is one of the first diseases targeted by WHO and UNICEF for eradication nearly in the 1950s.
  • The disease affects skin, bone and cartilage. Humans are currently believed to be the only reservoir, and transmission is from person to person.
  • Yaws is cured by a single oral dose of an inexpensive antibiotic azithromycin.
  • Yaws forms part of a group of chronic bacterial infections commonly known as the endemic treponematoses. These diseases are caused by spiral bacteria of the genus Treponema, which also includes endemic syphilis (bejel) and pinta. Yaws is the most common of these infections.
  • The disease is found primarily in poor communities in warm, humid and tropical forest areas of Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Pacific.
  • About 75-80% of people affected are children under 15 years of age, and they constitute the main reservoir of infection. Peak incidence occurs in children aged 6–10 years, and males and females are equally affected.
  • Transmission is through direct (person-to-person) non-sexual contact of minor injuries of an uninfected person with the fluid from the yaws lesion of an infected person. Most lesions occur on the limbs.

  • Tetanus is a non-communicable disease contracted through exposure to the spores of the bacterium, Clostridium tetani, that exists worldwide in soil and in animal intestinal tracts, and as such can contaminate many surfaces and substances.
  • As a result of the ubiquity of the bacterium causing tetanus, the disease cannot be eradicated.
  • Neurotoxins produced under anaerobic conditions in wounds contaminated with the bacterial spores lead to tetanus.
  • Tetanus occurring during pregnancy or within 6 weeks of the end of pregnancy is called “maternal tetanus”, while tetanus occurring within the first 28 days of life is called “neonatal tetanus”.
  • People of all ages can get tetanus but the disease is particularly common and serious in newborn babies and their mothers when the mothers` are unprotected from tetanus by the vaccine, tetanus toxoid.
  • Tetanus can be prevented through immunization with tetanus-toxoid-containing vaccines (TTCV). Neonatal tetanus can be prevented by immunizing women of reproductive age with TTCV, either during pregnancy or outside of pregnancy. This protects the mother and – through a transfer of tetanus antibodies to the fetus – also her baby.
  • Additionally, clean practices when a mother is delivering a child are also important to prevent neonatal and maternal tetanus.

People who recover from tetanus do not have natural immunity and can be infected again and therefore need to be immunized. To be protected throughout life, WHO recommends that an individual receives 3 doses of DTP in infancy, followed by TTCV boosters at school-entry age (4-7 years), in adolescence (12-15 years), and in early adulthood or during the first pregnancy.

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