After declaring the country free of leprosy in 2005. The government has now detected 1,26,800 new leprosy cases in India, which accounts for about 55.5 percent of all leprosy cases reported worldwide.
S D GOKHALE, President, International Leprosy Union (ILU) (India) says that "If the Union and state governments do not take serious note of this fact (the figures quoted were confirmed by union health ministry in a reply given in the Rajya Sabha on March 13, 2012) and initiate effective steps to eradicate leprosy, the problem would become more acute," reported the Zee News website.
Leprosy is a chronic infectious disease that develops slowly and progressively - damaging the skin and the nervous system. The infection is caused due to Mycobacterium leprae or M. lepromatosis bacteria, which causes damage to the skin and the peripheral nervous system. The incubation period of this disease is six months to forty years. It mostly affects the cooler places on the body such as eyes, nose, hands, feet, earlobes and testicles.
The cause of leprosy is the acid fast bacterium (M. Lepromatosis ) which grows inside certain humans and animal cells. M. leprae is genetically related to M.tuberoculosis and other mycobacteria that infects human. The patients with leprosy produce anti-endothelial antibodies, these are the antibodies against the lining tissues of blood vessels. The people are at a higher risk of leprosy, if they live in the areas where leprosy is endemic and if you are in a constant physical contact with infected people.
The early symptoms of leprosy appear very slowly. The starting symptoms of leprosy are numbness and loss of temperature sensation. With the progress of the disease, the patient losses the sensation of touch and pain. The symptoms of leprosy at the later stages are formation of painless ulcers, or skin lesions, eye damage, loss of digits, and facial disfigurement.
The treatment of leprosy is majorly done by using antibiotics, the antibiotics prescribed are based on the form or classification of the disease. For the purpose of treatment the leprosy is divided into two types Pauci-bacillary(PB) leprosy and Multi-bacillary(MB) leprosy. In general, the antibiotic medications used for Pauci-bacillary leprosy are dapsone and rifampicin whereas for Multi-bacillary leprosy along with the two antibiotics, a third antibiotic clofazimine is also used. Further studies for new medication for leprosy are going on. Surgery in cases of leprosy is done only in advanced stages of leprosy.
Sasakawa Indian Leprosy Foundation (SILF), is an organization working for leprosy affected people. Here, they are given the opportunity to earn their livelihood with dignity and self esteem. They are now able to hold their hands high instead of stretching them. The approach of the organization is to raise awareness about leprosy.