- Leprosy, also known as Hansen's disease, is a chronic infection caused by Mycobacterium leprae (an acid-fast, rod-shaped bacillus).
- The exact mechanism of transmission of leprosy is not known. Leprosy is curable and not easily transmitted. Although not highly infectious, it may be transmitted during close and frequent contacts with untreated cases. The disease mainly affects the skin, the peripheral nerves, mucosa. It may cause numbness on affected areas of the skin, muscle weakness or paralysis (especially in the hands and feet). The Cases of leprosy can be completely cured with an early treatment.
- The incubation period of leprosy is from a few months to several decades. It is generally agreed that the average incubation period is between 2 and 5 years.
- In early-stage, symptoms of leprosy are including red/white patches, nodules, papules and numbness on affected areas of the skin. The organs of Leprosy patients suffer severely in end-stage. It may causes blindness, deafness, claw hand, saddle nose, eyebrows and beard fall off, leontiasis, limb ulceration, and so on.
- People live in countries of high leprosy prevalence or suffer from diseases that compromise immune function may be at risk for the disease.
- Case Definition
- (1) skin lesion consistent with leprosy and with definite sensory loss/change or thickened nerves
- (2) positive skin smears or histological findings of leprosy granulomas
- -confirmed:a case meets both (1), (2)
Leprosy is a chronic infectious disease. According to official reports, the global registered prevalence of leprosy at the end of the first quarter of 2015 stood at 176,176 cases (0.2 cases per 10,000 people), while the number of new cases detected during 2015 was 211,973 (2.9 new cases per 10,000 people). Since 1945, our government has made efforts to launch sanitariums to accommodate and treat patients. Since 1983, the multi-drug therapy (MDT) recommended by World Health Organization (WHO) has been adopted to increase effectiveness. In private efforts, the non-profit Taiwan Leprosy Rescue Foundation was founded in 1954 to assist the undertaking of accommodating and treating leprosy. There were reported about 10 new cases yearly in recent years, and majority of them are imported cases or old-aged domestic population.
Prevention and Control
- To set up a leprosy prevention and treatment operations network and to improve the leprosy surveillance and reporting system.
- To improve the leprosy outpatient examination at prevention and treatment centers so as to discover new cases more quickly for early treatment.
- To administer medication and categorize any new case reported expeditiously.
- To improve public education on leprosy and to sustain leprosy health care providers.
- How to prevent from leprosy?
- (1) BCG vaccination to enhance protection.
- (2) maintain good immune function.
- (3) be checked by a specialist of dermatology clinic when skin abnormalities occurred.
- Is leprosy treatable?
- Yes, leprosy is easily treatable. It’s treated for 6 months to 2 years with a combination of antibiotics. Leprosy cases can be treated by MDT according to WHO recommendations.