Study reports the first cases of yaws, a chronic and highly contagious skin and bone infection, among the Aetas of Quezon
Research & Innovation | August 15, 2023
Yaws is a chronic, highly contagious skin and bone infection caused by a bacteria, Treponema pallidum subspecies pertenue, usually affecting children in poor, remote communities. On the skin, yaws presents as thick yellow crusts on pink cauliflower-like lesions. Its treatment is simple: a single dose of intramuscular Penicillin G or oral azithromycin. If left untreated, lesions may enlarge and ulcerate and bony deformities may occur. Yaws was last officially reported in the Philippines in 1973. Over the succeeding years, yaws cases were sighted in Mindanao but confirmed cases were only detected in 2017. This current study was conducted to find out if yaws is present in Luzon and Visayas Island groups as well. Active yaws surveillance was done by contacting health care providers all over the country and asking them if they have ever encountered yaws in their medical practice. Case detection surveys were done in 5 remote villages: 3 in Luzon and 2 in Visayas. Among the 3 villages in Luzon, 2 indigenous peoples communities were included: the Aetas of Quezon and the Dumagat/Remontados of Rizal provinces. Only the Aetas of Quezon province had confirmed yaws cases. Nineteen cases (54.3%) were detected among 35 Aetas: five active yaws (four children, one adult), two latent yaws (adults), and 12 past yaws (1 child, 11 adults). An 8-year-old boy had yaws with skeletal deformities. We report the first yaws cases among the Aetas of Quezon, Luzon Island group. Active yaws surveillance and case detection in remote areas and among indigenous peoples should continue.