Washington: Azithromycin, an antibiotic used in treating a potentially blinding eye infection, is just as effective if administered for six months instead of a year. So, the same drug could potentially treat twice the number of patients using the same amount of medication.
 
'We are trying to get as much out of the medicine as we can because of the cost and the repercussions of mass treatments,' said study author Bruce Gaynor, assistant professor of ophthalmology, University of California San Francisco's Francis I. Proctor Foundation.
 
Approximately 41 million people are infected with trachoma which blinds eight million people globally because of lack of access to treatment, journal reports.
 
Researchers conducted a cluster-randomised trial, using Azithromycin to treat trachoma in Ethiopia, which has among the highest prevalence in the world, according to a university statement. 
 
They picked 24 communities and randomised the two treatment options: 12 villages were given Azithromycin every six months and the other 12 were treated every 12 months.
 
Researchers tracked both groups and found the prevalence of infection decreased dramatically, even with six months of dosage of the antibiotic.
 
'We found that from as high as 40 percent, the prevalence of trachoma went way down, even eliminated in some villages regardless of whether it was treated in an annual way or a biannual way,' Gaynor said.
 
Trachoma can be transmitted through touching one's eyes or nose after being in close contact with someone who is infected. It can also be spread through a towel or an article of clothing from a person who has trachoma. Even flies can transmit the disease.

(Agencies)