Pinta (Carate)

Pinta is an infection caused by the bacteria Treponema carateum. It is a skin infection that can last a prolonged period of time and is characterized by small reddish bumps that can progress to discolored blotches.

Where does it occur?

It occurs mainly in rural areas of tropical Central and South America. Most cases are from Brazil, Peru and Venezuela.

How is it transmitted?

It is transmitted by prolonged direct contact with skin lesions of an infected individual, possibly through breaks in the skin.

Is it contagious from person to person?

It is contagious from person to person through prolonged direct contact with skin lesions. It is not highly contagious and may take months to years of contact to develop infection.

Once the skin lesions are healed, the infected is no longer contagious.

What is the risk for travelers?

The risk is generally low for travelers.

How soon after exposure will one develop symptoms?

Usually 2- 3 weeks after exposure.

What are the signs and symptoms?

Initial lesions of skin are small, reddish 3-4 mm size bumps with some scaling. Many of these may become large and in groups. One can see swelling of lymph nodes of an affected area. These may last for a year and resolve with lighter colored skin patches. Subsequently new lesions can occur and become discolored into brown, gray or bluish patches.

Is there any treatment?

Penicillin is the antibiotic of choice. Tetracycline and chloramphenicol are also effective.

Are there any lab tests to diagnose illness?

Scraping of skin lesions can demonstrate bacteria under the microscope.

What preventive measures can be taken?

No significant preventive measures are effective. Avoid contact with skin lesions of others.

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