Leprosy was thought to be gone, but 106 countries have reported new cases. Know the symptoms, what to do, and how to protect your family.
Although the word leprosy is scary because of the havoc it did in ancient times, today it is much easier to treat and control if we are diagnosed in time.
The warning voice originated in Chile, but the health authorities are spreading the word to other regions due to the high degree of contagion of this disease. As reported by the La Actualidad portal, two cases of leprosy have been confirmed in Chile, while a third is being investigated to determine whether it is leprosy or not.
According to the newspaper Mercurio Antofagasta, a certain secrecy has been maintained regarding the cases and disclosing the information due to the fear that these inhabitants will suffer discrimination.
Carmen Castillo, the health minister of Antofagasta (the region that would be affected), said in an official statement that “she is not going to designate the localities so as not to stigmatize.”
Castillo also added that leprosy is still present in the world and that “200 thousand new cases are registered around the globe”.
On the other hand, recently, the United States also confirmed some cases of leprosy, raising the attention of the population so that they know how to protect themselves and how to protect their family.
Is leprosy contagious? How is it spread?
According to the Organization that fights against Leprosy, despite the fact that many people think that this disease has disappeared, in recent years, “106 countries have reported new cases of leprosy.”
Leprosy is considered a contagious disease since it is spread through a sneeze or cough. However, it is good to understand that contagion usually does not happen immediately, but after a person has been in contact for a considerable time with the infected person, and the latter has not received the proper treatment.
But despite the fact that the disease is contagious, according to Leprosy.org, approximately 95% of the population has developed immunity against this disease, and it is very difficult (not impossible) for a contagion to occur.
What are the symptoms?
In the early stage
Red marks on the skin (lighter or darker than the normal coloration of our skin).
The skin with the spots can lose sensitivity and hair or hair (depending on where you are).
The spots appear on the arms, legs and back, usually.
Many times, the only symptom is a loss of feeling in the fingers and toes.
In advanced stages and without receiving treatment, the disease can attack the nervous system of the legs, interrupting the communication of the sensation of the feet.
The disease can also attack the sensitivity and function of the muscles of the face.
If left untreated, it can cause malformations, blindness, and difficulty walking.
Which is the treatment?
According to the same source, leprosy can be treated with the use of a combination of antibiotics: rifampicin, clofazimine and dapsone. Treatments can last between six months to a year; while in some cases, it may last longer.
Incredibly, in the United States, there are 150 cases of leprosy per year.
A strategy and alert from the WHO (World Health Organization)
Due to the increase in leprosy cases in the world, the WHO created a strategy in which it involves governments and health authorities to work together and reduce the cases. For this, it is planned to identify the areas in which leprosy is active, educating the populations so that they become familiar with the disease, its symptoms and what to do.
On the other hand, it is desired to impart a culture of anti-discrimination towards people who contract the disease.
What to do?
Find out in the area where you are if there have been cases of leprosy in your region. Familiarize yourself with the symptoms and seek medical help if you suspect that you or someone in your family has been infected. Remember that children and the elderly are the most prone to infection due to their weaker immune systems.