BACKGROUND: Whilst previous work has identified clustering of the active trachoma sign "trachomatous inflammation-follicular" (TF), there is limited understanding of the spatial structure of trachomatous trichiasis (TT), the rarer, end-stage, blinding form of disease. Here we use community-level TF prevalence, information on access to water and sanitation, and large-scale environmental and socio-economic indicators to model the spatial variation in community-level TT prevalence in Benin, Cote d'Ivoire, DRC, Guinea, Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Sudan and Uganda.
METHODS: We fit binomial mixed models, with community-level random effects, separately for each country. In countries where spatial correlation was detected through a semi-variogram diagnostic check we then fitted a geostatistical model to the TT prevalence data including TF prevalence as an explanatory variable.
RESULTS: The estimated regression relationship between community-level TF and TT was significant in eight countries. We estimate that a 10% increase in community-level TF prevalence leads to an increase in the odds for TT ranging from 20 to 86% when accounting for additional covariates.
CONCLUSION: We find evidence of an association between TF and TT in some parts of Africa. However, our results also suggest the presence of additional, country-specific, spatial risk factors which modulate the variation in TT risk.