The Struggle to Beat Back Yaws

Yaws, a painful tropical disease, has long been in WHO’s crosshairs for global eradication. Results from a new clinical trial show just how stubborn the disease is and what it may take to loosen its grip. 

  • Yaws is spread through skin contact, and while not fatal, is painful and can lead to lifelong disfigurement. It mainly affects children in poor, rural communities in equatorial Africa, Asia, and the Western Pacific.
  • The new trial attempted to give an entire population of 56,000 people 3 doses of the inexpensive antibiotic azithromycin at 6-month intervals to treat and prevent the disease.
  • The 3-round treatment reduced prevalence of active yaws by 91%—significantly more than the current standard of one dose (65%). But it did not eliminate the disease as researchers had hoped it would.


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