Yaws is an infection affects mainly the skin, bone and cartilage in humans and is caused by a bacterium called Treponema pertenue, a subspecies of Treponema pallidum. The spread of the disease is facilitated by poor personal hygiene and poor sanitation; therefore it usually affects children in poor communities in warm, humid, tropical areas of Latin America, Africa and Asia.
The prognosis of the disease plays a vital role in preventing the disease from spreading and in treating it. It helps limit the number of sores a person may develop and the spread to other individuals as well.
The disease is transmitted mainly through direct skin contact with an infected person but it is not sexually transmitted. The disease mostly affects children with about 75% of cases are children under 15 years of age.
Once a person gets infected with Treponema pertenue bacterium, a tan or reddish sore or skin lesion develops within 2 to 4 weeks. Without proper treatment several such sores may appear on the skin and may lasts for months. The sores are painless however they may be discomforting and cause itching.
Since the sores cause itching, the person may himself spread the bacteria to other parts of the skin leading to multiple sores. While treatment may provide quick relief, these sores will eventually heal on their own. Although it’s very rare, the disease can lead to chronic disfigurement and disability in some cases.
Yaws has two basic stages categorized as early stage and the late stage. The early stage is infectious while the later stage is not.
In the early stage, a sore may develop on the skin which may persist for several months. Without treatment, the initial sore may cause disseminated skin lesions on other regions of the skin. During the early stage of Yaws, the bacteria is most likely to spread rapidly.
The later stage of Yaws usually appears after five years of the early stage where the infection occurred initially. It can damage the skin and bones, affecting the appearance and disability of legs, nose, upper jaws, bones and palmar/plantar hyperkeratosis.
Since yaws require early treatment, its prognosis can be crucial. Prognosis is even more important during the initial phase of Yaws as it can help cure it and prevent it from spreading further. However during the later phase the yaws may have already caused damage to the skin and bones. Such damage is not fully reversible, even with treatment.
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