Trachoma Epidemiology in the Pacific

Chlamydia trachomatis is a bacterium of which infection of the eye (trachoma) is the most common infectious cause of blindness worldwide and infection of the urogenital tract (chlamydia) is one of the most sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in women. We are collaborating with the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Nauru and the Solomon Islands to conduct national surveys that aim to investigate whether trachoma is still endemic in these settings. These surveys are the first to combine clinical, bacterial, serological and WASH variables to test for evidence of current or past C. trachomatis infection with particular interest in children aged 1-9 years. Data was collected by local health workers from the participating communities. The results of the 2019 survey in Nauru prompted the Ministry of Health to implement a mass drug administration with azithromycin the following year. Both ocular and STI strains of infection are known public health problems in Nauru. Previous studies have shown a high proportion of children have early stages of trachoma but there is little evidence of the disease in adults. This concept is known as the ‘pacific enigma’. Our researchers hypothesise that the STI strain has a potential impact on trachoma like eye disease in Nauru. To investigate this, an STI survey collected samples for urogenital C. trachomatis testing in adults. Strains found in ocular samples collected will be compared with urogenital samples by genotyping. The findings will be highly relevant for trachoma control and could inform the delivery of integrated community-based interventions for trachoma and STI control.

Countries  Pacific Island Countries
Diseases Trachoma
Drugs Azithromycin
Research Discipline Epidemiologic MappingSocial Science Research
Contact Person Associate Professor Susana Vaz Nery
Link to Project -
Partner Organisations or Research Institutions involved Ministry of Health and Medical Services, Republic of Nauru
St Vincent’s Centre for Applied Medical Research
University of Queensland
Fred Hallows Foundation
Menzies Health Institute Queensland
School of Medicine, Griffith University, Brisbane
National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, Australian National University
Clinical Research Department, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, UK
International Trachoma Initiative, Task Force for Global Health, Decatur GA, USA
Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, USA
Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland
Sightsavers, Haywards Health, England, UK
Ministry of Health and Medical Services, Honiara, Solomon Islands
Approximate project duration Jul 2019 – Dec 2021