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World leprosy eradication day 2021

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Jan 19, 2021

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World leprosy day is organized globally each year on the last Sunday of January to enhance the public awareness and educate of the leprosy or Hansen’s disease. This date was selected by French humanitarian Raoul follereau as a tribute to the life of Mahatma Gandhi who had compassion for people infectious with leprosy disease. It is one of the oldest recorded fatal diseases in the world map. It is an infectious chronic disease that mainly targets the nervous system of a person, generally the nerves in the cooler parts of the body.

In 2020, the world health organization (WHO) found there were 508,907 new leprosy cases registered all over the world (1954, 351 cases at the end of the year), as per findings from 155 countries form six WHO areas. Lots of the people infected by leprosy disease are in Europe and Asia. In the US, 1660 new cases of leprosy disease were registered in 2020 alone, with 7.2% of infected being children under the age of 14.

Leprosy means:

Leprosy is a fatal infectious disease generated or developed due to a bacillus, mycobacterium leprae (M. leprae). The symptoms of the leprosy occur generally after a long period after getting infection on average 5 years as M. leprae multiplies very slowly. The disease usually affects the skin, hand, feet, mouth, the peripheral nerves, mucosa of the upper respiratory tract, and also the eyes.

The disease is generally classified in two forms such as: paucibacillary (PB) or multibacillary (MB) depending on the bacillary load. Pucibacillary (PB) leprosy is a milder disease characterized by few (up to five) skin lesions (pale, rashes or reddish), whereas multibacillary (MB) is connect with multiple (more than five) nodules, plaques, skin lesions, thickened dermis or skin infiltration.

How is the disease spread?

Untreated leprosy disease – affected people is the only known source for transmission of the bacteria.

  • Respiratory tract, usually the nose, is the major route of coming out of the organism from the body of infectious persons.
  • Disease causing organisms come in the body commonly by the respiratory system by droplets from the nose and mouth at the time close and frequent contacts with untreated cases.
  • After entering into the body, the organism or component migrates towards the nervous system and skin tissues.
  • If it is not diagnosed, cured and treated in initial stages, it may cause further damage to the nervous system leading to development of permanent disability.

Key messages:

  • Leprosy is treat with MDT (Multi drugs therapy)
  • Multi medication therapy use contentiously ensures complete treatment of leprosy, stop deformities and stops transmission to others.
  • Initially diagnosis, proper treatment and completion of full course will stop disability due to leprosy.
  • Leprosy disease is not hereditary, it does not transmit from parents to children.
  • Leprosy disease does not spread through normal touch for instance: shaking hands or playing together, or working in the same office.

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