Gonococcal ophthalmia neonatorum: the case for prophylaxis in tropical Africa

Bull World Health Organ. 1984;62(1):95-8.


PIP: During a period when silver nitrate prophylaxis against ophthalmia neonatorum was discontinued in the maternity ward of the Yaounde Central Hospital, a study was begun of the prevalence of gonorrheal infection among women and their newborns. Strains of oxidase-positive gonococci were isolated on modified Thayer-Martin agar from vaginal pool specimens of 40 (14%) of the 296 women studied and from the conjunctiva of 12 (4%) of their 297 liveborn children. The risk of transmission from and infected mother to her child was 30%. No specific symptoms of infection were observed by the mothers with positive cultures at the time of delivery, though 14 of them gave a history of having received treatment for a vaginal infection during pregnancy. Younger, low parity womenwere at a higher risk of infection. Since gonococcal ophthalmia neonatorum is a preventable cause of blindness, the increasing incidence of gonorrheal infection in Africa calls for an urgent reexamination of policies for the prevention of this infection among African women and their newborn children, the majority of whom are born without antenatal care or a trained birth attendant. (author's modified)

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Africa
  • Cameroon
  • Female
  • Gonorrhea / complications*
  • Gonorrhea / congenital
  • Gonorrhea / microbiology
  • Gonorrhea / prevention & control
  • Gonorrhea / transmission
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Middle Aged
  • Ophthalmia Neonatorum / etiology*
  • Ophthalmia Neonatorum / prevention & control
  • Ophthalmia Neonatorum / transmission
  • Parity
  • Silver Nitrate / therapeutic use


  • Silver Nitrate