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Trachoma

This chronic inflammatory disease of the eye is the largest preventable cause of blindness in the world today, infecting 150 million people and blinding around 6 million in developing countries, especially in Asia and North Africa. The disease has been eradicated in Europe and North America, and in November 1998 an international campaign was announced to fight the disease using antibiotics and improved hygiene (see reference below).

Trachoma is caused by the parasitic bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis which grows only within cells of the eyelid. Repeated infections over the years scar the upper eyelid, eventually causing the eyelashes to point inwards, scratch the lens of the eye and in many cases cause blindness. Transmission occurs because of lack personal hygiene. Washing faces and hands, or keeping flies out of eyes, is difficult in hot poor countries.

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