As many as 3,527 new cases of leprosy have been reported from 12 tribal-dominated districts of Gujarat during the Leprosy Case Detection Campaign (LCDC) conducted last month. Most new cases of leprosy (654) was detected in Vaslad district, which was followed by Dahod (534) and Tapi (355). There were 348 new cases in Surat, 328 in Bharuch, 286 in Navsari and 283 in Panchmahal. Narmada (183), Chhota Udepur (155), Vadodara (154), Dangs (145) and Mahisagar (102) were the other districts from were new leprosy cases were detected during the door to door intensive case detection drive, conducted with the help of ASHA workers, from October 3 to October 21.
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“During the drive around 3,200 suspected cases were found from which 654 new cases of leprosy have been confirmed by health officers. It was found that Kaprada and Umbergaon taluka (of Valsad district) have reported more number of cases, which are highly endemic because of hot and humid weather of the region. We covered a population of around 13 lakh, including major slums and all rural areas,” said district leprosy officer Dr Shailesh Parmar.
On the other hand, leprosy prevalence rate (PR) in 22 out of the 33 districts in Gujarat is less than one in 2015, according to the district wise annual new case detection prevalence report March 2015 of National Leprosy Eradication Programme (NLEP). State leprosy officer Dr Girish Thaker said to fight leprosy, extensive case detection drive was conducted in high endemic talukas of the 12 districts. Though PR in most districts of Gujarat is less than one, a few districts are highly endemic because of high humidity which foster Mycobacterium leprae — the leprosy causing bacteria.
“The leprae multiply slowly and the incubation period of the disease is about 2 to 6 years, and symptoms can take as long to appear. Though in districts where PR is more than one, some of the talukas of those districts are high endemic.” Thaker added. In the 2014 -15, total 9,761 new leprosy cases were detected in Gujarat from the population 6.5 crore, in which 64%, that is, 5,790 cases were detected from the scheduled tribe population.