Facts About Leprosy

Dr. S. K. Noordeen, President
International Leprosy Association

  1. Leprosy, also known as Hansenís disease, is still an important problem in many parts of Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
  2. In Europe and North America leprosy occurs in very small numbers mostly among immigrants from leprosy endemic countries.
  3. According to the World Health Organization currently there are over 600,000 registered cases of leprosy from over 100 countries in the year 2001. During the year 2000 over 750,000 new cases were reported. Close to 80% of cases occur in Asia with India alone contributing to 70% of the global disease burden.
  4. Apart from the registered cases there are a large number of persons cured of leprosy but with residual disabilities. Their number is estimated to be several times that of the registered cases. They need rehabilitation.
  5. Leprosy is caused by a bacterium Mycobacterium Leprae. Leprosy is not highly infectious. It is transmitted via droplets, from nose and mouth, during close and frequent contacts with untreated patients.
  6. Leprosy mainly affects skin and nerves. If untreated the disease can progress and cause permanent damage to the nerves, limbs and eyes.
  7. The disease is curable through Multidrug Therapy (MDT) which is a combination of drugs consisting of Rifampicin and Dapsone for paucibacillary leprosy (PB) and Rifampicin, Clofazimine and Dapsone for multibacillary leprosy (MB). This treatment was introduced through an initiative of WHO and so far over 11 million patients in the world have benefited from MDT.

December, 2002

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