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Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin Alcohol and other drugs knowledge centre Yarning Places

Skin sores research to improve health of children

Date posted: 27 August 2014

A Northern Territory (NT) based research project investigating alternative and more practical treatments for skin sores (impetigo) is set to benefit the millions of children worldwide who suffer from this infection, as well as Australian Indigenous children, who are disproportionately affected by impetigo.

The Menzies School of Health Research (Menzies) paper, Short-course oral co-trimoxazole versus intramuscular benzathine benzylpenicillin for impetigo in a highly endemic region, outlines the efficacy, feasibility and benefits of a new, non-injection treatment.

Worldwide, it has been estimated that 110 million children are currently living with skin sores. In Australia, eight out of every ten children living in remote Indigenous communities will have skin sores at least once before their first birthday, whilst around 50 percent of pre-school and school aged children currently have skin sores. The sores are due to an infection with a bacteria called group A streptoccocus, which has been linked to chronic kidney and rheumatic heart disease.

Over a three-year period, 508 Indigenous children with skin sores (aged three months to 13 years old) from communities across northern and central Australia, were randomly assigned to receive either the co-trimoxazole oral treatment or the traditional benzathine benzylpenecillin injection.

Lead author of the paper and Menzies PhD scholar, Dr Asha Bowen said the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) funded study was one of the largest clinical trials of skin sore treatment ever conducted. 'Until recently the recommended method of treating skin sores in the NT had been by painful intramuscular injection,' Dr Bowen said. 'We now know that the oral treatment works just as well as the injection, but also that this is a palatable, pain-free, practical and easily administered alternative.'

The Chief Investigator of the trial was the current Director of Telethon Kids Institute, Professor Jonathan Carapetis.

Source: Menzies School of Health Research


Last updated: 27 August 2014
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