Leprosy, also known as Hanson’s disease, is an infectious disease that causes disfiguring skin sores and nerve damage in legs, arms, and skin areas. It is an infectious disease caused by the spread of Mycobacterium leprae. Although leprosy is usually seen in adults, detecting new cases in children reveals bacteria’s active circulation.

Pediatric Leprosy

Children are believed to be the most vulnerable group to infection with Mycobacterium leprae, bacteria responsible for leprosy. This is highly due to their immature or nascent immunity to the bacteria and exposure to interfamilial contacts. The child proportion among newly detected leprosy cases is a strong indicator of continued transmission of the disease and requires high awareness. 

Know everything about pediatric leprosy, its causes, and prevention & treatment measures to curb the spread. 

Possible sources of infection in children

The exact mode of transmission for the spread of leprosy is still not proven. However, the infection by nasal droplets and direct contact with skin are best known to be the major routes for the transmission. Also, one of the most significant sources of infection in infants is through familial contact with leprosy. The risk of developing leprosy in an infant is four times when there is neighbourhood contact. Yet, this risk increases to nine times when the contact is intrafamilial or approximately too near. 

But, there are cases where there is no leprosy contact anywhere near the infant and still affected by it. Thus, the exact reason or the source of transmission can not be decided. 

Prevention through nutrition 

Leprosy is mostly is seen in countries where the nutrition requirements are low. It is for the same reason that leprosy is also called the disease of poverty. Healthy and proper nutrition during pregnancy and after birth will help you prevent pediatric leprosy. Including superfoods like Broccoli, wheat germ, spinach, fish, coconut, and soy foods will help prevent leprosy. These superfoods contain all essential nutrients, proteins, vitamins, immune-stimulating polysaccharides, antioxidants, trace elements that will slow the spread of bacillus bacteria. 

Leprosy symptoms 

Leprosy primarily affects the skin organ and nerves outside the brain and spinal cord. These nerves are called the peripheral nerves, which play an active role in sensation, movement and motor coordination. It also extends to strike eyes and the thin tissue lining the inside of the nose on the longer run.

The significant symptom of leprosy is disfiguring skin sores, bumps, or lumps that don’t go away after several weeks or months. The skin sores are pale-coloured. However, all of these symptoms are not just displayed right after the contraction. It usually takes about 3 – 5 years for all or some of the symptoms to appear after the contraction. 

The instances sighted have symptoms developed after 20 years, making it quite challenging to identify the disease in the early stages. 

Other severe effects 

Nerve damage can also further lead to,

  • Loss of feeling in arms and legs
  • Weakness of muscles 

Early diagnosis and treatment is a fundamental strategy to prevent leprosy transmission. Recognizing any signs of skin damage, delayed or deformed healing should be considered as a quick alert. Seek the doctor’s support to avoid further transmission in your child. 

*Information shared here is for general purpose. Please take doctors’ advice before taking any decision.

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