Health authorities in Chile are reporting a suspect leprosy case in a Haitian citizen living in the city of Valdivia in the southern part of the country, according to a Biobiochile report (computer translated).

Chile map/CIA
Chile map/CIA

Minister of Health, Carmen Castillo said the patient, a 28-year-old individual,  is a “suspected case” of leprosy and that treatment was initiated as a preventive measure.

LISTEN: Hansen’s Disease, or leprosy in the US

The director of the Health Service, Patricio Rosas, says that this is the first case in mainland Chile, so all the relevant guards are being taken and giving the corresponding treatment to the affected one.

Health officials say the situation is low risk for the public because the disease can only be spread by spending an extended period of time with the person suffering from the disease and a treatment exists.

Hansen’s disease, formerly known as leprosy, is caused by Mycobacterium leprae (M. leprae )bacteria. The infection has also been identified in nine-banded armadillos.

Approximately 95 percent of people are resistant to infection; people who develop clinical illness can experience a wide range of clinical manifestations, but typically develop infections involving the skin, peripheral nerves and nasal mucosa.

Although the mode of transmission of Hansen’s disease is not clearly defined, most investigators believe that M. leprae is usually spread person-to-person in respiratory droplets following extended close contact with an infected person, such as living in the same household. Extended close contact with infected armadillos may also pose exposure risk to M. leprae.


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