OBJECTIVE: To assess the prevalence of trachoma among preschool and school children of public schools to give new focus to control programs. METHODS: An epidemiological survey was carried out in São Paulo City in 1999. Children between four and 14 years old were selected by a cluster sampling where school shift was the sampling unit. External eye examination was conducted to detect trachoma. RESULTS: A total of 27,091 children were examined and 597 cases of trachoma were found (2.2%; 95% CI: 1.86-2.55). The prevalence ranged from 0.4% to 4.2% in 10 city areas. The trachoma detection rate in the household contacts examined was 8.7%. Follicular trachoma was found in 99% of the cases and intense trachoma in 1.0%. It was observed that 21.8% of the cases were asymptomatic. CONCLUSIONS: Though the trachoma prevalence was low, the occurrence of severe cases points out to the likelihood of cicatricial trachoma cases in the future if they are not adequately treated and controlled. The great difference in the prevalences in different city areas indicates the need for strengthening epidemiological surveillance activities.
Trachoma; Preschool; Epidemiological surveillance; School health; C. trachomatis