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With scores of Saint Lucians living with Leprosy and fresh cases since the new year began, the Ministry of Health has underscored the need for early detection and treatment of the disease.
In 2023, the Saint Lucia registered 11 new cases.
Nevertheless, Community Dermatologist Katurah Edwin-Tobias explained that Leprosy is curable using a combination of drugs.
The drugs are available free of charge within the public health system.
In a message to mark World Leprosy Day on Sunday, the community dermatologist disclosed that infection may occur mainly through droplets from the nose and mouth during prolonged close contact with untreated Leprosy cases.
According to Edwin-Tobias, on average, Leprosy has a prolonged incubation of at least five years.
She said that means someone could have an infection and now show any signs like body lesions or symptoms such as loss of feeling for up to five years.
The Health Ministry official said Leprosy appears to affect men and other persons who live with or have prolonged contact with untreated persons with the disease.
“This year, we intend to introduce treatment for persons who have had close contact with someone with Leprosy. This medication will help in reducing the chances of getting Leprosy. One single dose of Rifampicin can lower the possibility of you getting Leprosy if you have been in close contact with an infected person,” Edwin-Tobias said.
As a result, the Health Ministry has urged citizens to examine themselves and family members closely.
Edwin-Tobias advised people to visit the nearest healthcare facility on seeing a light-colored spot with decreased sensation or feeling or getting non-healing recurrent burns and ulcers to the hands and feet.
“The first step in preventing complications is getting a correct diagnosis and starting treatment early,” she noted.
In addition, the Community Dermatologist declared that early detection and access to proper treatment can prevent disability.
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