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Yaws Disease - Making a Comeback After 50 Years

The World Health Organization warned on Thursday that a virtually eradicated disease that eats through people's skin, cartilage and bones is reappearing in Africa//, Asia and South America.

WHO reported that it would restart its campaign to rid the globe of the skin and bone wasting disease Yaws. The disease affects over 500,000 people globally.

Yaws, a bacterial infection, can cause debilitating deformations, particularly in children under 15. A massive treatment program in the 1950s almost succeeded in wiping it out, but it is now slowly returning in Africa's poorest areas in addition to Asia and South America.

Yaws is a spiral bacterium that consumes the skin, cartilage and bones. Victims are often left with holes instead where their lips or noses should be. Spiral bacteria are similar to those that cause syphilis but can be treated with a single dose of penicillin.

The global health body said it had assembled experts from countries where yaws is endemic in Geneva this week to consider whether to revive the global program of 50 years ago so as to "eradicate this disease once and for all."

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