World Leprosy Day is celebrated on the last Sunday of January. The day was chosen by Frenchman Raul Folero in 1953 to coincide with the anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s death on January 30, 1948, according to the World Health Organization. World Leprosy Day aims to raise awareness of the disease.
According to the WHO, approximately 600 additional cases of leprosy are diagnosed every day, and patients begin treatment with leprosy. In 2014, for example, 213,899 people were diagnosed, and it is estimated that millions of others are not diagnosed.
Leprosy is an ancient disease that has been described in the writings of ancient civilizations. Throughout history, many people afflicted with this disease were subjected to ostracism among their communities and their families.
It is important to diagnose the disease early. Early treatment limits harm, prevents the person from spreading the disease, and reduces long-term complications.
What is the?
Leprosy is a chronic disease caused by a type of bacterium called Mycobacterium leprae, which is an acid-resistant rods-like bacteria. M. leprae multiplies at a slow rate, and the disease has an average incubation period of 5 years, according to the Health Organization.
Symptoms can appear within a year, but it may also take up to 20 years or longer to appear.
Symptoms according to the National Library of Medicine in the United States include:
1- Lesions that are lighter than your natural skin color.
2- Lesions that reduce the sensation of touch, heat, or pain.
3- Lesions that do not heal after several weeks to months.
4- Muscle weakness.
5- Numbness or lack of sensation in the hands, arms, feet, and legs.
The disease mainly affects:
1- The skin.
2- Peripheral nerves.
3- The mucous membrane of the upper respiratory tract.
Leprosy is a disease that can be cured with multidrug therapy.
How is it transmitted?
Leprosy is most likely transmitted through droplets, either from the nose or mouth, during frequent close contact with untreated cases.
If left untreated, leprosy can cause permanent, progressive damage to the skin, nerves, limbs and eyes.
Globally, there were 211,9 new cases of leprosy recorded in 2017, according to official figures taken from 159 countries in the six regions of the World Health Organization.
Based on the number of cases that reached 193,118 at the end of 2017, the disease prevalence rate is 0.3 / 10,000.
What is the treatment?
While the management of leprosy was introduced in different ways in the past, the first breakthrough in treatment of leprosy occurred in the 1940s, thanks to the invention of the drug dapsone. The treatment period extended for several years, often throughout life, which made adherence to treatment difficult.
Mycobacterium leprae began to develop resistance to dapsone, the only known anti-leprosy drug at the time. In the early 1960s, two drugs, rifampicin and clofazimine, were discovered and were later added to the treatment regimen, which was later called multidrug therapy.
In 1981, the World Health Organization recommended multidrug therapy. The current recommended multi-drug treatment regimen consists of 3 drugs: dapsone, rifampicin, and clofazimine. The duration of this treatment is 6 months for the cases of oligobacteria, and 12 months for the cases of multibacillus, as the treatment with multiple drugs eliminates the disease and achieves a cure.
The global elimination of leprosy was achieved in 2000 as a public health problem (known as the reported prevalence rate of less than one case per 10,000 population). More than 16 million patients with leprosy have been treated with multidrug therapy over the past 20 years.
1- The occurrence of deformation.
2- Muscle weakness.
3- Permanent nerve damage in the arms and legs.
4- Loss of feeling.
5- People with long-term leprosy may lose use of their hands or feet due to repeated injury, because they lack feeling in those areas.