Strength in Numbers dedicated to my late mother Kay

Leprosy still exists in UK despite beliefs it was wiped out decades ago – but doctors are missing it because they think it’s eczema

Leprosy is still present in Britain but doctors missing are its symptoms due to beliefs it was wiped out more than half a century ago.
Around 130 cases of the disease – whose sufferers were treated as social outcasts in Medieval times – were reported in England and Wales between 2001 and 2010.
GPs are misdiagnosing the contagious infection, believing patients have a more common skin problem such as eczema, experts have warned.

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2 Responses

  1. Anne Kiely says:

    Leprosy affects the poorest people in the world, as they are more vulnerable to diseases. Our higher standard of living in the UK led to the elimination of the disease here, but there are experts here who can treat the small number of people affected.

    Leprosy is a chronic disease caused by a slow multiplying bacillus, myobacterium leprae. It is not yet clear how it is transmitted, but the incubation period is around five years and it can be as long as 20 years before symptoms appear. More than 90% of people are naturally immune to the disease.

    Leprosy is completely curable, but it is important that an early diagnosis is made to prevent permanent disability. In 2012/13, nearly 230,000 were newly diagnosed and started treatment. More than 70% of these people live in South East Asia.

    for most people, the first sign of leprosy is one or more skin lesions. There are, though, other diseases which can look like leprosy at this stage. One test for diagnosis is called a “slit skin smear” for which a scalpel is used to collect fluid and cells for laboratory analysis. Other tests might reveal paralysis or numbness of hands or feet.

    With health education, the prejudice against leprosy can be broken down so that people will come forward for early diagnosis and cure. The major concern is the millions of people living in poverty with permanent disabilities caused by leprosy.

    We publish Leprosy Review, the only English language medical publication specialising in the disease.


    • Joanna says:

      Thank you Anne for commenting, and the information you have given is very informative


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