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Australian Trachoma Surveillance Report 2022

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 a public health problem, primarily in remote and very remote Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory (NT), South Australia (SA) and Western Australia (WA). The Australian Government funds the National Trachoma Surveillance and Reporting Unit to collate and analyse trachoma prevalence data and control strategies annually.

Key findings
  • The number of communities at risk of trachoma in Australia has steadily declined in all jurisdictions since 2010. Communities at-risk of trachoma fell by 50% in NT (84 in 2010 to 42 in 2022), 85% in SA (72 in 2010 to 11 in 2022) and 64% in WA (86 in 2010 to 31 in 2022).
  • In 2022 the overall prevalence of trachoma in Aboriginal children aged 5 9 years was 2.3% in the NT, 0% in SA, and 3.1% in WA. Queensland was declared non-endemic for trachoma in 2022.
  • Antibiotic treatment for trachoma was required in 34 communities. 829 doses of azithromycin for trachoma treatment were distributed in 2022, continuing the decline in annual dosage numbers recorded since 2016.
  • Rates of trichiasis (a severe consequence of trachoma infections that requires surgery to correct) continue to be low, with the prevalence of trichiasis in screened adults aged 15 years and older at 0.07% in 2022.
  • In preparation to seek validation from the World Health Organization that Australia has eliminated trachoma as a public health problem, Australia must maintain less than 5% overall trachoma prevalence (trachomatous inflammation—follicular) and prevalence of trachomatous trichiasis less than 0.2% in persons aged 15 years and above in each formerly endemic state/territory (jurisdiction) for a further two years.