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Paraguay health officials remind the public and providers that timely detection of leprosy is key to proactive treatment. This comes as the “World Day for the Fight against Leprosy” is celebrated on the last Sunday of January of each year.

Image/Robert Herriman

Dr. Olga Aldama, dermatologist, director of the National Program for the Control of Leprosy said, “It is essential to detect all leprosy patients as soon as possible and ensure adequate treatment. With its early diagnosis, it can be treated and cured.”

The doctor expressed that leprosy initially manifests itself as spots on the skin, but these have a peculiarity, which is the absence of sensitivity. “The spots can be whitish, reddish. Try to find these spots as soon as possible because the more time passes, the nerve damage could be worse,” he warned.

Aldama confirmed that, once treatment has started, after 72 hours of medication, the affected person can no longer be contagious. “The treatment usually goes from 6 to 12 months, depending on the number of bacilli. It must be borne in mind that transmission occurs through the respiratory tract, also if there is direct contact with saliva.

The dermatologist assured that the disease is not fatal, but it creates a lot of morbidity in the patient. In Paraguay, around 350 cases are registered, in all the departments of the country, and currently the largest number is concentrated in Alto Paraná and Central.

The Ministry of Public Health urges citizens to consult before the appearance of spots on the skin to rule out a possible outbreak of leprosy.