In the midst of clinics at Kinomere, two sisters – age 8 and 10 – showed up for treatment for a sore on their leg.
Sores are common in PNG – kids run around barefoot, climb coconut trees daily, and fish for their own food. Often these sores spread into tropical ulcers, which can be very painful. Without resources to treat wounds or seek medical assistance, parents rarely intervene.
As Dr Grace examined the sisters, she noticed something unusual about their sores; though they were large and aggressive looking wounds, the girls felt no pain.
Upon further examination, Dr Grace confirmed that the girls had yaws, an infection that had been supposedly eradicated fifty years prior.
Unattended, the infection from yaws spreads to the bone, causing severe crippling. It is also highly contagious, hence the reason two girls in the same family showed the symptoms.
Fortunately, yaws can be treated with antibiotics, which the girls were given; however, because it is so rare, the sisters will also need an injection to kill the infection completely.
Many people would have overlooked yaws as a possibility because of its eradicated state; however, fresh out of medical school, Dr Grace recognized the signs and symptoms from her studies and helped to save these two little girls from a crippling life