Early diagnosis, full course treatment critical to cure leprosy, says IMA

Indian Medical Association (IMA), as a part of its Anti-Leprosy Movement, said vaccination with BCG partially protective for leprosy

bcg vaccineThe Indian Medical Association (IMA), as a part of its Anti-Leprosy Movement, has made stakeholders aware that the vaccination with BCG (Bacillus Calmette–Guérin) is partially protective for leprosy. Further, a single dose can give only 50% protection and two doses would give the additional cover.

In a statement issued on the occasion of anti-leprosy day on Monday, the IMA said early diagnosis and a full course of treatment are critical for preventing lifelong neuropathy and disability for leprosy patients.

Leprosy is an infectious disease caused by mycobacterium leprae that involves the skin and peripheral nerves. Early physical examination findings include hypopigmented or reddish skin patches, diminished sensation or loss of sensation in involved areas, paresthesias, painless wounds or burns, and tender, enlarged peripheral nerves, IMA national president Dr K K Aggarwal has said.

Stating that neuropathy and ophthalmic injury can also occur due to the disease, the national-level voluntary organisation of doctors has stressed that the diagnosis is established when at least one of these physical findings is present and a skin biopsy obtained from the leading edge of the skin lesion confirms the presence of acid-fast bacilli in a cutaneous nerve.

Elaborating on the treatment of leprosy, IMA said it consists multiple drug treatment. Control measures for leprosy include clinical management of active cases as well as contact management. Household contacts should be evaluated annually for evidence of disease for at least five years and should be educated to seek immediate attention if suspicious skin or neurologic changes develop, Aggarwal said.

The IMA has also said that development of an improved vaccine is an important research goal for prevention of leprosy.

Source: The Times of India