Posted by Michael Milston on Apr 27, 2019
Trachoma is really an ancient disease with records describing it in ancient Egyptian texts and ancient Chinese writings. It is unclear when trachoma first reached Australia.
Hugh Taylor writes in his book 'Trachoma':
"One obvious suggestion is that the European migrants who came to Australia in the 1800s brought trachoma with them from Europe ... others have said that trachoma was introduced to Aboriginal people in northern Australia by Malay traders, and elsewhere by Afghan and Chinese labourers, who also came to Australia in the 19th century."
Professor Taylor continues: "Two interesting studies have suggested the presence of trachoma before European colonisation of Australia.
1  A study of Aboriginal skulls dating back 14 000 years show abnormal changes ... interpreted to indicate the presence of trachoma in ancient Aboriginal remains.  
2  In the 1950s and 1960s, extensive efforts were made to remove the remaining family groups of nomadic Aboriginal people from the Western Desert ... believed never to have had previous direct contact with Europeans had their eyes examined; half showed signs of trachoma.