Health officials with Queensland Health (QH) in the northeast corner of Australia have reported their fourth leprosy, or Hansen’s disease case of the year last week.

Public domain Image/Richard Russell, Dominic Dwyer
Public domain Image/Richard Russell, Dominic Dwyer

According to QH’s Summary of notifiable conditions reportThere has been one notification of leprosy in an Australian-born person who reported multiple visits to Papua New Guinea where leprosy is endemic. Further investigation is currently in progress.

Recent previous years data show that Queensland typically sees 1-2 cases annually.

LISTEN: Leprosy: An interview with Dr Richard Truman

According to a Townsville Bulletin report today, the most recent case was reported from the Townsville Public Health Unit (TPHU), making it the first leprosy case in the city in three years.

Hansen’s Disease (Leprosy) Facts

  • Most (95%) of the human population is not susceptible to infection with M. leprae, the bacteria that causes Hansen’s disease (leprosy).
  • Treatment with standard antibiotic drugs is very effective.
  • Patients become noninfectious after taking only a few doses of medication and need not be isolated from family and friends.
  • Early diagnosis and treatment prevents nerve involvement, the hallmark of Hansen’s disease (leprosy), and the disability it causes.
  • Without nerve involvement, Hansen’s disease (leprosy) is a minor skin disease.