Widespread use of penicillin has been responsible for reducing the number of existing cases, but the only way to eliminate bejel is by improving living and sanitation conditions and through continuing health education.
Treponema pallidum subspecies endemicum, the bacteria that causes bejel, is very closely related to the one that causes the sexually transmitted form of syphilis, but the method of transmission is different.
When traveling in areas where bejel is endemic, parents should ensure that their children avoid contact with children with lesions and avoid shared drinking and eating utensils.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has worked with many countries to prevent this and other diseases, and the number of cases of bejel has been reduced somewhat.
Bejel has many other names depending on the locality, including siti (Gambia), njovera (southern Rhodesia), therlijevo (Croatia), and frenjak (Balkans).
In bejel, transmission is by direct contact, with broken skin or contaminated hands, or indirectly by sharing drinking vessels and eating utensils.
Bejel is only rarely reported in the United States and then usually among immigrants and people arriving from areas where the disease is common.
Bejel is related to yaws and pinta, and together the three diseases are referred to as treponematoses.
The lesions associated with bejel are destructive and may leave disfiguring scars.
The doctor should be called if symptoms of bejel develop in a child.