Leprosy disease causes severe nerve damage, skin scarring and sores. Almost every country of the world is affected by this disease. Every year over 180000 people worldwide fall victim to the Leprosy disease.
Leprosy is not actually an infectious disease. But when a healthy person comes in close contact with a leprosy patient or mouse droplets, he gets infected.
FACTS ABOUT LEPROSY
• Leprosy is one of the world's oldest diseases.
• East Africa is the most likely source of leprosy.
• The bacteria Mycobacterium leprae and Mycobacterium lepromatosis cause leprosy, also known as Hansen's disease (HD).
• It was well recognised thousands of years ago in the oldest civilizations of China, Egypt, and India. The presence of Leprosy infections in hundred-thousand-year-old remains is supported by genetic evidence.
• Leprosy is not a particularly contagious disease. During close and frequent contact with untreated cases, it is transmitted via droplets from the nose and mouth. Leprosy, if left untreated, can cause progressive and permanent damage to the skin, nerves, limbs, and eyes.
• On the recommendation of WHO, multi drug therapy (MDT) consisting of Rifampicin, Clofazimine, and Dapsone was identified as a cure for leprosy in 1982.
• The last Sunday of January is designated as World Leprosy Day. It aims to raise public awareness about leprosy and to achieve zero cases of leprosy-related disabilities in children.
SYMPTOMS OF LEPROSY
Leprosy first affects the skin and then progresses to the peripheral nerves, which are located outside the brain and spinal cord.
Although it takes three to five years for these symptoms to appear after coming into contact with the bacteria, symptoms can appear up to 20 years later in some cases.
The incubation period is the time between being exposed and the appearance of symptoms. If this period lengthens, doctors will have a much more difficult time diagnosing the disease.
Some of the symptoms of leprosy are as follows:
• Extreme pain
• Nose bleeding
• Growth on skin
• Enlargement in nerves
• Feet ulcers
• Stiff, thick and dry skin
• Might lead to blindness
• Eyesight problems
• Non-sensitive lesions on the body.
• Numbness in hands, arms, feet, and legs.
TYPES OF LEPROSY
Intermediate, Tuberculoid, Borderline tuberculoid, Mid-borderline, Borderline, and Lepromatous leprosy are the six types of leprosy, which are primarily classified based on the severity of symptoms.
It is the most severe stage of leprosy. Patients at this stage have flat lesions that may heal on their own without progressing if they have a strong immune system.
It is the milder and less severe form of leprosy. People with this disease have patches of flat, pale-colored skin and no sensation in the affected area due to nerve damage. This strain is less contagious than others. This infection either heals on its own or progresses to a more severe form.
BORDERLINE TUBERCULOID LEPROSY
The symptoms are very similar to tuberculoid, but the infections may be smaller and more numerous, and they may continue and revert to tuberculoid or any other advanced form.
This stage's signs and symptoms are very similar to those of borderline tuberculoid leprosy. This includes reddish plaques with numbness that may regress or progress to a different form.
This type of leprosy is a cutaneous skin condition with multiple wounds or scars, including plaques and flat, raised bumps that may persist or regress.
It is considered a more severe type of disease because it has many bacterial lesions. The affected area is riddled with bumps, numbness, muscle weakness, and rashes. Other symptoms include limb weakness, hair loss, and damage to other body parts such as the kidneys, nose, and male reproductive system. It is more contagious than tuberculoid leprosy, which never heals.
Treatment for leprosy is entirely dependent on the type of leprosy that the patient has. Doctors use antibiotics to treat the infection. Long-term treatment consists of two or more antibiotics that will last from six months to a year.
People with severe leprosy may need to take antibiotics for a longer period of time. However, these antibiotics are ineffective in treating nerve damage. Some anti-inflammatory medications are used to treat nerve pain and severe damage caused by leprosy.
INDIA’S STAND ON LEPROSY
Every year on January 30th, India observes Anti-Leprosy Day. Every year on the last Sunday of January, the world observes the same day.
According to the World Health Organization, India accounts for more than half of all leprosy cases detected worldwide. In 2017, India accounted for 60% of all new cases detected that year (1.26 lakh cases out of 2.10 lakh cases worldwide).
Bihar had the most cases (14388) as of March 2018, followed by Uttar Pradesh (12,583), Maharashtra (9836), West Bengal (9175), and Chhattisgarh (9175). (6499).
In terms of prevalence, the Union Territory of Dadra & Nagar Haveli topped the list in March 2018 with 202 cases, representing 4.85 cases per 1 lakh population.
Chhattisgarh has the highest prevalence (2.25 per lakh population), followed by Odisha (1.38), Bihar (1.18), and Jharkhand (1.18). (1.05).
According to a recent report by the National Leprosy Elimination Program (NLEP), children accounted for approximately 8.7 percent of total Leprosy cases detected in India.
The draconian Lepers Act of the colonial era was repealed in 2016.
SPARSH Leprosy Awareness Campaign was launched in 2017 to raise awareness and address stigma and discrimination.
The campaign's measures, such as contact tracing, examination, treatment, and chemoprophylaxis, are expected to reduce the number of Leprosy cases.
The emphasis on women, children, and people with disabilities is expected to uncover more hidden cases.
In addition to continuing to give MDT to patients, new preventive measures such as chemoprophylaxis and immunoprophylaxis are being considered in order to break the chain of transmission and achieve zero disease status.
In 2019, the Lok Sabha passed a bill to eliminate leprosy as a ground for divorce.
In honour of Mahatma Gandhi's 150th birth anniversary on October 2nd, 2019, the NLEP has prepared a comprehensive plan to reduce the grade to disability to less than one case per million people by October 2019.