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Brazil is the second country in the world with the highest number of leprosy cases

The Purple January campaign is raising awareness of the disease. Learn the main symptoms of leprosy

Brazil is the second country in the world with the highest number of leprosy cases

Photo: Shutterstock / Sa├║de em Dia

Brazil has 28,660 cases of leprosy, ranking second in the global ranking, behind only India (120,334 cases), according to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), as of 2019. About 200,000 new cases of leprosy are detected annually in the world . In 2021 alone, Brazil diagnosed 15,155 new cases of the disease.

The disease has a cure, but the fact that it is contagious raises an alert about its transmission within the country. Therefore, the National Leprosy Prevention and Control Day was created, and it is always celebrated on the last Sunday of January purple, which this year will be 01/29/2023.

leprosy

According to the Ministry of Health, leprosy is an infectious, contagious and chronic disease caused by bacteria leprae. The condition mainly affects the skin, mucous membranes, and peripheral nerves (arms and legs). In addition, it can also cause neurological damage, which can lead to irreparable harm, including social exclusion, if diagnosis is delayed or treatment is inadequate.

Dermatologist Dr. Adriana Vilarinho highlights the importance of recognizing the disease at the onset of symptoms. “Early diagnosis is key, because the sooner it is diagnosed, the less complications and sequelae will be caused by the weakness of the peripheral nerves that characterize this disease,” warns the doctor.

She explained that the transmission of leprosy occurs through the respiratory tract (speech, sneezing or coughing), during prolonged contact with the patient without treatment, or by those who are still unaware of the disease. “But when treatment begins, the infection stops,” he reassures.

Warning signs

The specialist assures that it is necessary to pay attention to the signs. According to the Ministry of Health, the most common symptoms of leprosy are:

  • patchy (white, red, brown or brown) and/or area(s) of skin with a change in thermal sensitivity (to heat and cold), painful (to pain) and/or tactile (to touch);
  • compromise of peripheral nerve(s) – usually thickened (thickening) – associated with sensory, motor and/or autonomic changes;
  • Areas with a lack of hair and perspiration.
  • tingling and/or tingling, especially in the hands and feet;
  • decreased or absent sensitivity and/or muscle tone of the face, hands, and/or feet;
  • Lumps (nodules) on the body, in some cases red and painful.

distribution of tests

Last Tuesday (24), the Ministry of Health organized a leprosy event in Brazil with the aim of publicizing the actions against leprosy. The volume announced the distribution of 150,000 rapid tests to detect the disease. The material will be distributed throughout Brazil from February and will be intended for people who have been in contact with patients who have confirmed the diagnosis.

Also according to the portfolio, the SUS will have two new support tests: the rapid (serological) test and the molecular biology (PCR) test.

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