Leprosy, stigmatizing disease: Nearly 300 cases have been reported in the country

IN Argentina are diagnosed 300 cases from leprosy, a diseases very stigmatizing for those who suffer from it, causing discrimination and exclusion to the affected, although only 5% of cases are contagious.

Leprosy was one of the first diseases described in ancient times to decimate populations and cause massive formations and loss of limbs. Their stigmatization has crossed the cultures, borders, and ages of mankind.

"The painting of leprosy was synonymous with the fact that we were a sinner, which meant separation, abandonment, exile and separation in the known" leprosy "which was in force until the 1960s. Until 1940, science I developed effective treatment if used in the initial phase, "explains Gabriela Ferretti, a clinical practitioner, neuroscientist, legal expert and medical auditor (UBA).

Ferretti stressed that, despite the development of science, "knowledge of disease and advances in diagnostic methods and treatment, leprosy or Hansen's disease continue to bear the burden of bad repute, and today those suffering from this pathologist have to cope with many of his stigma, which not only affects the quality of life due to the illness itself, but also all the psychosocial factors that accompany it ".

Leprosy produces Mycobacterium Leprae (Hansen's bacillus) discovered by Norwegian physician Gerhard Armauer Hansen in 1874. It is probably one of the first disease-induced bacteria to be recognized. More than 200,000 cases are diagnosed worldwide in the world, although their distribution is not at all heterogeneous.

India focuses on 63% of those affected and then in Brazil almost 12% (approximately 25,000 cases, equivalent to 92% of people with leprosy in America). It is always associated with poverty, overcrowding and lack of education. In Argentina, according to the Panameric Health Organization, an average of 300 cases per year are found.

However, the Argentine Dermatological Society estimates that there are many patients without a diagnosis. Areas that have experienced leprosy are located in the north and in the middle of the country: Chaco, Formosa, Corrientes, Misiones, Santa Fe, Entre Ros, Crdoba, Santiago del Estero, Tucumán, Salta, Jujuy, Buenos Aires and the federal capital. provinces in the northeast, north of Santa Fe, and the large conglomerates of the Great Resistance, Rosario and Great Buenos Aires are more important, internal migration allows the spread of this disease to any part of the country.

"However, although it is an infectious and communicable disease, it is very contagious, in fact, only 5% of people are exposed to infection, but it is not all, so human-to-human infection occurs. Direct and confidential contact should be made after long incubation time (the time between infection and disease) is 3 to 5 years, "said Ferretti, vice president of the Buenos Aires Association of Experts. (APERCA) and a member of the Biotica Board of the Latin American Institute for Human Rights.

Endemic disease

Despite the fact that the number of cases is very low compared to other continental regions, leprosy is considered to be an endemic disease, as this figure remains stable over the years and no eradication is expected in this area. Its symptoms are specific because it also includes different organs.

It mainly occurs in the peripheral skin and nerve, with the appearance of spots or mice with more or less pigments that create a progressive decline in sensitivity in the area, every hair and the absence of transpiration. At the same time, peripheral nerves are affected. There are two classifications of the disease according to its clinical picture, but WHO simplifies it in two categories: one of them, less benign and less contagious with up to 5 skin lesions or paucibacillary form and more aggressive and contagious over 5 lesions or multibacillary form.

The infection is through nasal secretion, which is greater in people with multibacillary form. "Mycobacterium Leprae is an organism related to a tuberculous bacillus that is introduced into human cells, and the development of the disease depends to a large extent on the immune responses of the individual." These two diseases also require antibiotic treatment. for at least six months, which in many cases reduces compliance, "said the expert.

Although there is no specific lethal vaccine, it appears that tuberculosis vaccination (BCG) has a protective effect. Meanwhile, it is estimated that there is an individual susceptibility to suffering leprosy that could be hereditary. In addition to skin patches, we can find granulomas (such as skin rashes) that are the result of the inflammation they create and are responsive to each individual. Peripheral nerves are also affected by a change in their sensitivity and motor pulse transfer functions.

Premature diagnosis

Ferretti assured that "the appearance of skin patches (lighter or darker) with persistent numbness should be a reason for consultation because you may be in the presence of leprosy."

In this sense, he stressed that "early diagnosis allows for greater treatment efficiency and a high chance of cure, as well as investigating other cases in the immediate vicinity and preventive treatment, if necessary". "In our country, treatment is provided free of charge through the National Public Health of the Nation and consists of two or three antibiotics that must be administered from 6 months to 1 year," he concluded.

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