JANUARY 25 2015: WORLD LEPROSY DAY

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JANUARY 25 2015: WORLD LEPROSY DAY

LEPROSY

Leprosy is one of the oldest recorded diseases known to humankind; a disease that has been known since biblical times. It is an infectious chronic disease that targets the nervous system, especially the nerves in the cooler parts of the body – the hands, feet, and face. It causes skin sores, nerve damage, and muscle weakness that gets worse over time. If not treated sufferers can become blind, lose the sensations in their hands and feet; and become prone to a disability through the threat of injury. For thousands of years, people with leprosy have been stigmatized and considered to be at the extreme margins of the society. The aim of World Leprosy Day is to change this attitude and increase public awareness of the fact that leprosy can now be easily prevented and cured.

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

Leprosy is also known as Hansen’s disease, named after Norwegian physician, Gerhard Henrik Armauer Hansen, who debunked the prevailing notion of the time that leprosy was a hereditary disease. He showed that the disease had a bacterial cause instead. World Leprosy Day was the idea of the great French philanthropist and writer, Raoul Follereau, who dedicated many years to fundraising and helping those affected by leprosy The day was initiated in 1954 by him, as a way to raise global awareness of this deadly ancient disease and call attention to the fact that it can be prevented, treated and indeed, cured. Follereau believed that those affected by leprosy should receive the same respect, dignity and quality of care as any other patient. And secondly, he wanted greater awareness of the disease in order to change attitudes and to reduce stigma.

Initially, this day of prayer was to achieve those two things. And for over 60 years, on the last Sunday of January, people around the world have observed World Leprosy Day by remembering and praying for those living with the terrible effects of leprosy.

World Leprosy Day is observed internationally on January 26 or its nearest Sunday. The date for World Leprosy Day was chosen to coincide with the anniversary of Indian freedom fighter, Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination on January 30, 1948. During his lifetime, Mahatma Gandhi was greatly concerned by the plight of those with leprosy and he worked tirelessly towards the betterment of people afflicted with leprosy.

LEPROSY AWARENESS:

CAUSES

Leprosy is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium leprae. It is not very contagious and it has a long incubation period (time before symptoms appear), which makes it hard to know where or when someone caught the disease. Children are more likely than adults to get the symptoms.

TYPES OF LEPROSY

Leprosy has two common forms: tuberculoid and lepromatous. Both forms produce sores on the skin. However, the lepromatous form is most severe. It causes large lumps and bumps (nodules).

SYMPTOMS

Symptoms include: •Skin lesions that are lighter than your normal skin color •Lesions have decreased sensation to touch, heat, or pain •Lesions do not heal after several weeks to months •Muscle weakness •Numbness or lack of feeling in the hands, arms, feet, and legs

EXAMS AND TESTS

•Lepromin skin test can be used to tell the two different forms of leprosy apart, but it is not used to diagnose the disease
•Skin lesion biopsy
•Skin scraping examination

TREATMENT

A number of different antibiotics (including dapsone, rifampin, clofazamine, fluoroquinolones, macrolides, and minocycline) are used to kill the bacteria that cause the disease. More than one antibiotic is often given together. Aspirin, prednisone, or thalidomide is used to control inflammation.

PROGNOSIS

Diagnosing the disease early is important. Early treatment limits damage, prevents a person from spreading the disease, and allows the person to have a normal lifestyle.

POSSIBLE COMPLICATIONS

•Disfigurement
•Muscle weakness
•Permanent nerve damage in the arms and legs
•Sensory loss People with long-term leprosy may lose the use of their hands or feet due to repeated injury because they lack feeling in those areas.

PREVENTION

Prevention consists of avoiding close physical contact with untreated people. People on long-term medication become noninfectious (they do not transmit the organism that causes the disease)

Matthew 8:1-3
Jesus Healed Leprosy Man :
When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy

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