The Ministry of Health of Misiones confirmed this week that in 2018 There were 36 cases of leprosy in that province, which is an expected value for an endemic region.. It is known that this chronic infectious disease affects one in every 10,000 inhabitants two decades ago and is known for its consequences, but currently it has a much smaller number and can be treated successfully.
"Leprosy is an infectious disease caused by bacteria called Mycobacterium Leprae or Hansen's bacillus, which discovered the bacillus in the 19th century. It is treated with antibiotics and is cured. Since 1985, Argentina has adopted a scheme of the World Health Organization (WHO) with three concurrent drugs with a high degree of effectiveness, "explained the dermatologist. Raúl Valdez in dialogue with PROFILE
The expert added that "in the country up to 20 years ago, leprosy was a public health problem because there was one patient per 10,000 inhabitants, but in 1983, the leprosy law in Argentina was amendedIt decides compulsory and free treatment instead of compulsory hospitalization, which was no longer necessary.
Characteristics of leprosy:
- It mainly affects the skin and peripheral nerves
- It is curable
- It usually manifests as a spot with no sensitivity to cold, heat and / or pain
- The transmission of the disease is by direct and prolonged contact
- The area of greater endemism is in the provinces of the North and Northeast of the country: Misiones, Chaco, Formosa, Corrientes.
In this context, the specialist of the University Hospital Austral gave details on how the conception of the disease has changed in recent years: "The doctor Luis María Baliña, who proposed in 1983 a change in the law, which says that there is "compulsory and gratuitous treatment" and no more "hospitalization" because it is more effective to give an antibiotic than to confine a personand that is where the history of leprosy changes. "
"As of 1985, there is a very significant rate of decline in Argentina, and by 2016 there were only 300 confirmed cases of leprosy throughout the country," he added.
"The treatment against leprosy is effective and efficient," says Dr. Raúl Valdez
"Today the diagnosis becomes easy: with the clinical examination, a biopsy is done, a bacteriological exam is done and that day the patient starts the treatment.The important thing is that it is very effective and efficient, two weeks after receiving, the patient ceases to be contagious, and this gives tranquility to the family group, "explained the expert.
The specialist exemplified the stages of the disease:
- Incubation. If a patient comes and I suspect leprosy, the diagnosis can be made within 24 hours. Despite this, this person may have incubated the disease, 1 or 2 years without knowing it.
- SymptomsThe best ally of the doctor is the pain, because if you hurt something, go to the professional. Leprosy affects not only the skin but also the peripheral nervous system, the patient does not feel. When you burn or have a nail in your shoe, you do not feel it and this is what catches your eye, having a sleeping body part or a stain. The reason for the query is "I do not feel".
- Contagion. The contagion occurs from person to person and with a close bond, that is, relatives. We say cohabitants, people who live under the same roof and have contacts with dwellings, this is our group at risk. The contagion is mainly by mouth-nose, previously believed to be to touch the skin, but this is proven not to be the case. It takes an intimate and prolonged contact.
- Tracking. The efficacy of leprosy treatment is 95%, which in medicine is very numerous. To the leprosy patient we give the two years of pharmacological release, that is, he does not take any more medicines and he is accompanied for five years to know if it does not fall. In other words, a partial discharge is given.
Leprosarium "In 1929, when Pedro Baliña (Luis's father), a dermatologist and leprologist, proposed the law of compulsory hospitalization, leprosy was created in Argentina, one in San Francisco de Cheñar (Córdoba) and another in Baldomero Sommer (Buenos Aires). Aires), which currently function as general hospitals, "recalled Valdez.
"There were a lot of leprosy responding to this law that responded in turn, at a time when there were no antibiotics. The only solution the society had was to isolate contagious patientsthe same thing happened to those who had tuberculosis. They have isolated them, "he added.
"In 1983, when Luis Baliña was able to change the law, it was established that every leprosy patient receives compulsory free treatment by the State and not a mandatory hospitalization sinceIt is more efficient to give antibiotics to the person isolate it more efficiently and at a lower cost, so the leprosariums were closing and opening as health centers, "he concluded.