Yaws is a chronic infection that affects mainly the skin, bone and cartilage. Yaws is transmitted mainly through direct skin contact with an infected person. A single skin lesion develops at the point of entry of the bacterium after 2–4 weeks. Without treatment, multiple lesions appear all over the body. Overcrowding, poor personal hygiene and poor sanitation facilitate the spread of the disease. The disease is rarely fatal, however, it can lead to chronic disfigurement and disability. Yaws can be treated with a single dose of a cheap and effective antibiotic.
HOW IS YAWS DIAGNOSED?
A sample from a skin sore is examined under a special type of microscope (darkfield examination). There is no blood test for yaws. However, the blood test for syphilis is often positive in people with yaws because the bacteria that cause these 2 conditions are closely related.
HOW IS YAWS TREATED?
If appropriately treated in its early stages, yaws is highly curable. A single injection of long-acting penicillin into a muscle is effective. Skin lesions may take several months to heal. If treated in its late stage, significant disfigurement may persist permanently. A single intramuscular injection of Benzathine Penicillin is curative. Relapse is very rare. The dose for adults is 1.2 million units and for children 600 000 units. For those who are allergic to penicillin, tetracycline, erythromycin and doxycycline could be used.
DID YOU KNOW?
Yaws may damage the skin and bones. It can affect a person's appearance and ability to move. It can also cause deformities of the legs, nose, palate, and upper jaw.