Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Northern Ireland Man diagnosed with Leprosy

Image of a man with leprosy
Leprosy is still common in the developing world
A man from County Armagh has been diagnosed with leprosy, the BBC has learned.
BBC August 2007: The man, who wants to remain anonymous, is believed to have picked up the disease when he lived in Indonesia. He said that when he became ill, his ears, lips and nose became swollen, he developed a rash and lost sensation in his arms and legs. The man, who is receiving treatment for the condition at a London clinic, said he is now cured of the disease. He is hoping to be discharged from the clinic, where he has received treatment for several months. He said he had become a minor medical celebrity during his time there. "Every time I went to London for treatment, there'd be a doctor there from Amsterdam or France or wherever wanting to have a look at me," he said. "I still get tired if I exert myself but, apart from that, I'm back to normal."

Deformity: If left untreated, leprosy can cause deformity and disability but, despite its reputation, it is not highly contagious - only one in 10 people with it are infectious, even if they receive no treatment. To catch the infection, requires prolonged, close contact. Once infection has occurred, the disease can incubate for a very long time before symptoms appear. Often incubation lasts five years, but it can take as long as 20. In the early 90's, a World Health Organisation attempt to eradicate leprosy worldwide by the year 2000 failed. It is still endemic in India, parts of Africa and in many South American countries.

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