Absence of Serological Evidence of Exposure to Treponema pallidum among Children Suggests Yaws Is No Longer Endemic in Kiribati.
Yaws is a neglected tropical disease targeted for eradication by 2020. Kiribati, a Pacific Island nation, was previously endemic for yaws but lacks recent data from which its current endemicity status could be determined. This study tested antibody responses to Treponema pallidumto determine if transmission of yaws is taking place among children in Kiribati. Using a commercially available T. pallidum particle agglutination kit (Serodia®, MAST Diagnostics), we tested dried blood spots, collected during population-based trachoma prevalence surveys on Tarawa Atoll and Kiritimati Island, for long-lived treponemal antibodies. Dried blood spots from 1,420 children aged 1-9 years were tested. Only two were positive, suggesting T. pallidum is not being widely transmitted among children in the settings sampled. These data require support from additional surveys to demonstrate the absence of clinical signs of disease and molecular evidence of infection, to confirm that yaws is no longer endemic in Kiribati.