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Written by Dr.Swati Rajagopal

BENGALURU: Leprosy continues to infect people across the state, which was declared free from the disease. Withdrawal of ‘leprosy eradication programmes’ after WHO declared the country to be ‘eliminated’ from leprosy is said to be the major reason of concern among public health experts and doctors.

“It is unfortunate that the programmes related to leprosy awareness were withdrawn after WHO declared it as “eliminated”.

However, now the Union ministry has written to all state governments to conduct special drives to raise awareness about the disease,” said Dr Swati Rajagopal, Consultant, Infectious Disease, Aster CMI Hospital.

Mastan Saheb, field coordinator for Sumahali Society, Leprosy Rehabilitation Centre on Magadi Road, said the incubation period of leprosy bacteria, Mycobacterium leprae, can vary from a few months to a few years. It is a stage when the person carrying the bacteria can spread the infection without his health being affected.

“This long incubation period makes it a tricky infection and eradication becomes difficult. Eradication is possible when no case of leprosy is recorded in the state. However, it is still prevalent across all districts.”

However, the cases where there is an abnormal presentation of the diseases are increasing and this is also posing a challenge to the doctors.

“The number of patients with no visible patches are found to be on the rise. Between 5 to 10 per cent of the patients visit doctors only when the damage is severe,” Dr R Raghunatha Reddy, president, Bangalore chapter of Indian Association of Dermatologists, Venereologists, and Leprologists.

If detected early, disabilities can be prevented.

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