On World Leprosy Day 2022 it is important to familiarize yourself with leprosy and its risk factors. Although leprosy is not nearly considered as contagious and threatening as before, the disease hasn’t died down completely.
This begs the question, “Should Leprosy be Feared in 2022?” Find out below.
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What is Leprosy?
Leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease is an infectious disease caused by a type of bacteria called mycobacterium leprae that affects the skin, the peripheral nerves, eyes, as well as the upper respiratory tract mucosa. It is one of the oldest diseases ever recorded with the first cases dating back to almost 600 BC.
If the disease is not treated in a timely manner it can lead to blindness, paralysis, the crippling of the feet and hands, permanent disability, and disfigurement.
What are the Causes of Leprosy?
Leprosy spreads slowly with prolonged contact with someone affected by the disease. Transmission usually happens through inhaling droplets containing leprosy bacteria when someone who has the disease coughs or sneezes.
What are the Symptoms of Leprosy?
Following are the symptoms of leprosy:
- Muscle weakness
- Numbness in the feet, hands, arms, and legs
- Appearance of discolored patches on the skin
- Dry Skin
- Growths on the skin
Should Leprosy Be Feared in 2022?
Nowadays, leprosy is considered much less of a threat to human life as it doesn’t spread that easily and can be treated easily with multidrug therapy (MDT). However, the disease still exists. According to WHO figures almost 127,558 new cases of leprosy were reported worldwide in 2020.
Although you shouldn’t be fearful of leprosy in 2022, it is recommended to observe caution especially if you live in one of the endemic regions listed below:
- Central African Republic
- Democratic Republic of Congo
- Federated States of Micronesia
- Republic of Marshall Islands
- United Republic of Tanzania
Moreover, it is necessary to maintain good hygiene, avoid getting tattoos, or coming into contact with armadillos which are mammals native to South America. Armadillos are said to be naturally infected by the leprosy bacteria and hence can serve as a means of its transmission.
Yohei Sasakawa, the WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination has urged the global population to not forget about leprosy even amid the coronavirus pandemic. He also announced the launch of the website of the global appeal 2022 to stop discrimination against people affected by leprosy and the stigma surrounding it.
WHO has also started the United for Dignity campaign for World Leprosy Day 2022 to end the stigma and discrimination associated with leprosy to aid the unfortunate people affected and disabled by the disease.