Yaws is a chronic skin infection that affects mainly the skin, bone and cartilage. It is caused by the bacterium called Treponema pertenue. Most of the people affected are children under 15 years of age. Yaws start as a single skin lesion that develops at the point of entry of the bacterium after 2–4 weeks. When left untreated, multiple lesions appear all over the body. The disease is rarely life-threatening; however, it can lead to disfigurement and disability.
As of now, there is no vaccine to prevent Yaws. The principles of prevention are based on early diagnosis and interruption of transmission.
The disease occurs in warm, humid and tropical areas tropical conditions. Overcrowding, poor personal hygiene and poor sanitation are the harbingers of the disease. Health education in personal hygiene is essential components of prevention and control the spread of the disease.
Using a special type of microscope (darkfield examination), the clinical diagnosis of yaws can be confirmed by examining a sample from a skin lesion. There is no blood test or any other way to diagnose yaws. However, as the bacterium that causes syphilis is the same, the blood tests for syphilis are diagnostic in yaws as well. A single intramuscular injection of Benzathine Penicillin is curative. The disease takes not more than two-three months to heal.
Without treatment, rashes and lesions become more severe and evident. Moreover, there is a chance that one will develop disfiguring and disabling complications. The disease may cause gross destruction of the skin and bones. The deformities of the legs, nose, palate and upper jaw have been reported in yaws patients.
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