Watch those flies

By Mario
Published: Thursday 15 July 1999

Those pesky flies that park themselves on food and cause diarrhoea have been blamed for causing blindness. A new study in Africa suggests that flies may be responsible for spreading trachoma, the leading cause of blindness in developing countries like India. Trachoma is a painful type of highly contagious conjunctivitis in which the eyes are infected with a bacterium called Chlamydia trachomatus transmitted by flies. Paul Emerson and his team from Medical Research Council Laboratories, The Gambia, studied the effects of fly control using an insecticide spray and the resultant effects on the prevalence of trachoma and childhood diarrhoea. Spraying effectively reduced the prevalence of trachoma in the study areas. The study concludes that spraying would be an useful way to control this preventable blindness in children ( The Lancet , Vol 353, No 9162 ).

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