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Mentioned throughout history as a curse, leprosy was considered as a punishment of sins by many cultures as it was widespread and common. However, modern science demystified it and de-stigmatized it to the point where the occurrence of leprosy within the population has gone down to very low levels, although it is still prevalent among certain populations.
Prevention of leprosy: Leprosy is caused by the bacterial infection of Mycobacterium leprae and it is classified into multiple types. Leprosy is communicable through contact with common objects or a person by infected droplets within their nose. It primarily affects mucous membranes and the skin and the nerves on the hands, feet, and in extreme cases may cause disfigurement as well. There are no specific ways to prevent leprosy as no specific correlation between transmission and development has been found so far. Leprosy can happen through one time contact or through contact over extended period of time within the same household. Thus preventive measures will primarily include the following:
- Regular checkups by going to the doctor
- Ensuring that surfaces are kept clean if you share a household with a leprosy patient
- Skin biopsies at regular intervals just to check if you may have contracted the bacteria
- If a rash has developed, then it is urgent that you visit the doctor. Earlier the leprosy is detected, quickly it can treated and resolved
Incidences of leprosy have reduced over the last few decades due to improvements in medicine and early detection. This has allowed people to nip the problem in the bud and does not allow it to spread within their bodies or to other people.
Treatment of leprosy: The primary weapon that modern medicine has against leprosy is known as MDT or multidrug therapy. Multidrug therapy is the combination of multiple drugs, which attack the various aspects of leprosy, such as skin problems, nerve damage, loss of sensation, deterioration of skin conditions etc. This is the proven way to not only reduce symptoms, but also cure the problems in the long run.
Some of the drugs in the MDT used are as follows:
- Rifampicin and dapsone
- Rifampicin and clofazimine and dapsone
- Rifampicin, minocycline and ofloxacin
However, the combination will depend on the type of leprosy the person is affected with, such as paucibacillary leprosy or multibacillary leprosy and thus can only be prescribed by the doctor after thorough and detailed examination.