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Yaws, also known as frambesia or piã, is an infectious disease that affects the skin, bones and cartilage. This disease is more common in tropical countries such as Brazil, for example, and affects especially children under 15 years of age, especially between the ages of 6 and 10 years.
The cause of yaws is an infection caused by the bacterium Treponema pertenue, a subspecies of the bacteria that causes syphilis. However, yaws is not a sexually transmitted disease, nor does it cause long-term cardiovascular problems like syphilis.
How to catch and transmit
Transmission is by direct contact with an individual's infected skin and develops in 3 stages:
- Primary stage: After 3-5 weeks of coming into contact with an infected individual, a skin lesion called "mother pox" appears on the child, similar to a lump or wart, with a yellowish crust, that increases in size, taking a shape similar to a raspberry. In the region there may be itching and swelling of the lymph nodes. It usually disappears after 6 months.
- Secondary stage: It appears a few weeks after the first stage of yaws and is characterized by the appearance of hard lesions on the skin of the face, arms, legs, buttocks and on the soles of the feet, which make walking difficult. At this stage there is also swelling of the lymph nodes and bone problems can arise that cause bone pain at night.
- Late stage: It appears about 5 years after the infection starts and causes severe damage to the skin, bones and joints, causing pain in movement. At this stage, yaws can also lead to the destruction of parts of the nose, upper jaw, roof of the mouth and pharynx, disfiguring the individual's face.
Yaws is curable and rarely fatal, but individuals can be left with severe deficiencies in the body if they are not treated properly.
Signs and symptoms
Yaws symptoms can be:
- Yellow skin sores, clustered in raspberry shape;
- Itching at wound sites;
- Lumps in the neck, groin and armpits, due to swollen lymph nodes;
- Pain in bones and joints;
- Painful sores on the skin and soles of the feet;
- Swelling of the face and disfigurement when the infection started years ago, without any treatment.
The diagnosis is based on symptom analysis, physical examination and recent history of travel to hot places with poor sanitation. To confirm the diagnosis, the doctor may order a blood test called an antibiogram, to identify the presence of the bacteria that causes this disease.
The treatment of yaws consists of the use of penicillin injection, given in various doses, depending on the age of the patient and the doctor's prescription. In case of being allergic to penicillin, the patient can take erythromycin, tetracycline hydrochloride or azithromycin.
Primary and secondary stage injuries may heal completely, but destructive changes that may include loss of the nose may be irreversible.