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City sees rise in leprosy cases in last 5 years: Health department data

The prevalence rate has gone up from 0.37 cases per 10,000 in 2010-11 to 1.60 cases per 10,000 in 2014-15.

Written by TANBIR DHALIWAL | Chandigarh | Published: January 30, 2015 3:12:08 am

leprosy-mainWith the prevalence rate of leprosy steadily increasing in the city, the data shared by the UT Health Department shows that the disease is still thriving in the City Beautiful.

The prevalence rate has gone up from 0.37 cases per 10,000 in 2010-11 to 1.60 cases per 10,000 in 2014-15.

Till date, as many as 335 patients have undertaken multi-drug therapy, of which 275 are suffering from MB (multibacillary leprosy) and 60 from PB (paucibacillary leprosy). Further, a total of 139 leprosy cases were reported from the city itself during last year. In 2010-11, a total of 228 (43 city residents) leprosy cases were reported. It increased to 270 (54 city residents) in 2011-12 and witnessed a slight decrease in 2012-13, as 261 (74 city residents) were recorded.

The last two years again witnessed a spurt. In 2013-14, a total of 266 new leprosy cases were detected, which included 144 from the city and rest from other states. In 2014-15, 299 new cases were reported—139 cases from the city and 66 were those who had again sought treatment or had been referred from other places.

The new case detection rate has increased from 4.07 cases per 100,000 in 2010-11 to 12.57 per 100,000  in 2014-15. As per Dr Harsimrat Kaur, state leprosy officer, “Leprosy has an incubation period (time interval of getting the infection to onset of symptoms) ranging from few weeks to about 20 years. Further, the health department has been doing door-to-door surveys to detect leprosy patients, which has led to a sudden increase in the diagnosis.”

The doctor added, “About 80 per cent of leprosy cases are reported from the high endemic areas, which include Ramdarbar, Dhanas, Mauli Jagran, Maloya and other colonies. The reason can be attributed to poor hygienic conditions and overpopulation. The migrant population residing in the colonies can also be a factor.”

Dr Abhinav Jindal, state leprosy consultant, said that the department is going to organise a massive survey from January 30 to February 28, during which every house in Ramdarbar will be covered.

“Though treatment is freely available, the stigma attached to the disease stops patients from coming forward. Hence, we are planning to conduct surveys in all high endemic areas of the city. We will recruit about 10 health workers, who will conduct door-to-door surveys and send the detected patients for treatment,” said Dr Jindal.

Disease Background

Leprosy is a chronic infectious disease which mainly affects the skin, peripheral nerves, mucosa of the upper respiratory tract and also the eyes. It is caused by a bacteria called Mycobacterium leprae. The disease is not  contagious, and only spreads if a person comes into close and repeated contact with nose and mouth droplets of an infected person. However, the disease is 100 per cent curable.

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