Leprosy elimination

Elimination of leprosy FAQ


If we can interrupt the transmission of infection with leprosy organisms in the community, will that be enough to eliminate the disease as a public health problem?

With very high MDT coverage, it is expected that the pool of infectious sources will be virtually wiped out in the course of time, and transmission of infection with M. leprae will cease. However, it is likely that new cases will be occurring that are not brought about by continued transmission of infection but simply the result of infections acquired several years earlier.

How does the concept of leprosy elimination differ from that of leprosy control?

Leprosy control was a more limited concept, based on strenuous - but not always successful - efforts to find leprosy cases and treat them with one or more drugs. By contrast, the concept of leprosy elimination takes advantage of the availability of the effective technology of MDT, and its capacity to reduce disease prevalence drastically, to work towards a defined goal within a specified time frame.

What epidemiological advantages over other diseases does leprosy have that make elimination possible?

The special features of leprosy are that: the infected human being is the only reservoir and source of infection; under natural conditions, incident cases make up only a small fraction of the prevalence pool; below a certain level of prevalence, any resurgence of the disease is very unlikely; and unlike tuberculosis, the leprosy situation does not appear to be adversely affected by HIV infection.

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