How to prevent Leprosy?

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Leprosy (Hansen’s disease) is a chronic infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium leper. It affects mainly the peripheral nerves. It also affects the skin, muscles, eyes, bones, testes and internal organs. It occurs in two forms namely lepromatous lep­rosy and tuberculosis leprosy. Between these two forms there are borderline leprosy and indeterminate leprosy.

Characteristics:

rhe important features of leprosy are:

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1. hypo pigmented patches.

2. partial or total loss of cutaneous sensation in the affected area.

3. thickening of nerves

4. presence of acid fast bacilli in skin or nasal smears. Deformities:

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In advanced stages, leprosy can produce deformities like:

1. nodules in the skin, face and ears.

2. ulcers in the foot.

3. loss of fingers or toes.

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4. nasal depression, foot drop and claw toes.

Transmission:

1. Leprosy is mainly transmitted by direct or indirect contact of an infected patient.

2. Sometimes it is transmitted by droplet infection through nasal and oral secretions of the patient.

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3. Fomites also can transmit the infection.

Prevention and control:

1. Detection of cases of leprosy and tracing the contacts especially children of the patient’s house.

2. Prevention of contact between the patient and other normal persons, especially children.

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3. Preventive treatment (chemoprophylaxis) with daps one.

4. Selective isolation or hospitalization of the patient showing acute reactions or complications.

5. Treatment of infected patients with daps one.

6. Rehabilitation of the patient with suitable work. Social and psychological rehabilitation is also necessary.

Health education

The public should know that leprosy can be cured completely, if it is detected in the beginning itself. The patient and his family should be advised about the value of treatment, repeated examina­tion of contacts and protection of children.

Leprosy eradication programme

Initially National Leprosy Control Programme ws started in 1959. In 1983, it was converted into Leprosy eradication pro­gramme. It is operated uniformly in all states. In the states, it is under the control of Additional Director of leprosy. Each district has a District leprosy officer. For two or three taluks there is a leprosy control unit which is controlled by a Medical officer. Under him, there are Health educators, Supervisors, Leprosy inspectors, Lab technician, Pharmacist, Nursing assistant and driver. The lep­rosy control unit plays a vital role in detecting and treating leprosy cases.

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