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Vicky Cevallos, John P. Whitcher, Muluken Melese, Wondu Alemayehu, Elizabeth Yi, Jaya D. Chidambaram, Scott Lee, Harsha Reddy, Bruce D. Gaynor, Thomas M. Lietman, Jeremy D. Keenan; Association of Conjunctival Bacterial Infection and Female Sex in Cicatricial Trachoma. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2012;53(9):5208-5212. doi: 10.1167/iovs.12-9984.
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Conjunctival infection with non-chlamydial bacteria may play an important role in the progression of trachoma, especially with regard to the development of corneal opacity and blindness. To further characterize the microbiological profile of bacterial conjunctival infections in cicatricial trachoma, a conjunctival swabbing of adults in rural Ethiopia was performed.
In a cross-sectional study conducted in nine Ethiopian villages with hyperendemic trachoma, persons 40 years of age or older with signs or symptoms consistent with trichiasis were recruited and conjunctival swabbing for bacterial pathogens was performed.
Conjunctival examination and swabbing on 112 females and 36 males were performed. Of the 148 study participants, 101 (68.2%) were confirmed to have trichiasis, and 118 (80%) had conjunctival swabs positive for bacteria. In multivariate analyses, growth of pathogenic conjunctival bacteria was independently associated with trichiasis (odds ratio [OR] 6.93; 95% confidence interval [CI] 2.71–17.7) and female sex (OR 5.90; 95% CI 2.09–16.7). Females were more likely to have swabs positive for Streptococcus pneumoniae or Haemophilus influenzae than were males (OR 9.09; 95% CI 1.17–70.8).
In a region of Ethiopia with endemic trachoma, conjunctival bacterial growth was more common in females than that in males. S. pneumoniae and H. influenzae , both of which frequently colonize the nasopharynx of children, were more common in females, suggesting that the preponderance of infection in females may be attributable to close contact with children. This finding is consistent with the theory that childcare activities may preferentially expose females to ocular chlamydial infection. (ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00221364.)
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