Background: We evaluated the effect of a single mass distribution of azithromycin for trachoma on the risk of acute lower respiratory infection (ALRI) during a 6-month period among young children living in 8 communities in rural Tanzania.
Methods: In 8 communities, a cohort of randomly selected children (n = 1036) was followed for incidence of ALRI episodes. Mass treatment for trachoma using a single dose of oral azithromycin was provided in 4 of the 8 communities where trachoma prevalence was .10%. All children were followed with biweekly surveillance at home for 6 months. Incidence of ALRI episodes was calculated for 0 to 1 month, 1 to 3 months, and 3 to 6 months posttreatment and in comparable time points in the nontreated villages.
Results: In the multivariate analysis, living in a MDA village was associated with a 38% (rate ratio 5 0.62, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.43-0.91) decreased risk of ALRI in the 0- to 1-month follow-up period as compared with those in the untreated communities after adjusting for covariates and clustering. There were no significant differences in ALRI incidence by exposure status in the 1- to 3-month (rate ratio = 0.91, 95% CI = 0.69-1.20) and in the 3- to 6-month (rate ratio = 1.00, 95% CI = 0.76-1.30) follow-up periods.
Conclusions: Mass distribution of a single dose of oral azithromycin for trachoma is associated with a significant short-term reduction in ALRI morbidity among young children.