Yaws in the Philippines: A clinico-seroprevalence study of selected communities in Mindanao

Belen Lardizabal Dofitas*, Sherjan P. Kalim, Camille B. Toledo, Jan Hendrik Richardus

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Background Yaws is a chronic, highly contagious skin and bone infection affecting children living in impoverished, remote communities. It is caused by Treponema pallidum subsp. pertenue. We report the prevalence of active yaws among elementary schoolchildren based on clinical and serological criteria in selected municipalities of Southern Philippines. Methods From January to March 2017, exploratory cross-sectional surveys and screening of skin diseases were conducted in the Liguasan Marsh area of the provinces Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat, and Cotabato. We included 9 municipalities and randomly selected one public elementary school per municipality. Members of students’ households and the communities were also examined and treated. Yaws suspects and contacts had blood tests for trepone-mal and non-treponemal antibodies using Dual Pathway Platform and Treponema pallidum particle agglutination (TPPA) tests. Results A total of 2779 children and adults were screened for any skin disease: 2291 students, 393 household members, and 95 community members. Among 210 yaws suspects and con-tacts, 150 consented to serologic tests. The estimated prevalence of active yaws among schoolchildren screened was 1 out of 2291 (0.04%). Among 2532 children who were 14 years old and younger, 4 (0.2%) had active yaws. Eight adult household contacts and community members had latent yaws and 2 had past yaws. Five out of 9 municipalities were endemic for yaws. Conclusions This study confirmed that the Philippines is endemic for yaws but at a low level in the schools surveyed. This is an under-estimation due to the limited sampling. The lack of proper disease surveillance after the eradication campaign in the 1960’s has made yaws a forgotten disease and has led to its resurgence. Yaws surveillance is needed to determine the extent of yaws in the Philippines and to help develop a strategy to eradicate yaws by 2030.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0010447
JournalPLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
BLD received the research grant from the Philippine Department of Health. This research project was solely funded through the Philippine Department of Health’s Health Systems Research Management (https://hpdpb.doh.gov.ph). The funders contributed the research question and general study design.

Publisher Copyright: © 2022 Dofitas et al.


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