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Australian Trachoma Surveillance Report 2020

Trachoma is an eye infection caused by serotypes of the Chlamydia trachomatis bacteria, and is a major cause of preventable blindness globally. Australia is the only high‑income country where trachoma is still endemic. It occurs primarily in remote and very remote Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia. The Australian Government funds trachoma control and health promotion initiatives in jurisdictions with endemic trachoma, through the Closing the Gap – Improving Eye and Ear Health Services for Indigenous Australians measure.

The National Trachoma Surveillance and Reporting Unit is responsible for data collation, analysis and reporting related to the ongoing evaluation of trachoma control strategies in Australia.

Key findings

Key findings:

  • In 2020, 98 remote communities were identified as being at risk of trachoma, of which nearly all or 98% required and received screening and/or treatment according to current guidelines.
  • A total of 2,177 children aged 5–9 years in at risk communities across Australia were examined for trachoma, a screening coverage of 91%.
  • The overall prevalence of trachoma in children aged 5–9 years was 3.8% nationally; and 5.3% in the Northern Territory, 0.0% in Queensland, 0.5% in South Australia and 4.6% in Western Australia.
  • 3,752 doses of the antibiotic azithromycin were distributed for the treatment of trachoma Australia-wide, with a treatment coverage of 70%.
  • Overall, 14,484 persons aged 15 years and over were examined for trichiasis (a severe consequence of trachoma infections that requires surgery to correct), with new trichiasis cases confirmed in 0.1% of those screened.