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leprosy UPSC NOTE

 What is leprosy and What it Cause?

  • Leprosy, also known as Hansen's disease.

  • It is a chronic infectious disease caused by a slow-growing bacteria called Mycobacterium leprae

  • It primarily affects the skin, peripheral nerves, lining of the nose, and eyes.

  • Mycobacterium leprae is the culprit, a slow-growing, rod-shaped bacterium that primarily targets nerve tissue.

  • Although leprosy isn't highly contagious, it can spread through prolonged close contact with someone with untreated leprosy, usually through respiratory droplets from coughing or sneezing.

  • Early symptoms can be subtle and include pale, painless patches on the skin, numbness in the hands and feet, and thickening of the earlobes.

  • If untreated, the disease can progress, leading to nerve damage, muscle weakness, and deformities in the hands and feet.

What is multidrug therapy (MDT)?

  • Multidrug therapy (MDT) is a specific treatment regimen that combines multiple antibiotics to combat infectious diseases caused by bacteria that are prone to developing resistance to single drugs.

  • MDT utilizes the combined power of two or more different antibiotics with varying mechanisms of action. 

  • This makes it harder for the bacteria to develop resistance to any single drug, as they would need to overcome multiple mechanisms simultaneously.

  • MDT is primarily used for treating chronic bacterial infections, particularly those caused by bacteria with a high tendency to develop resistance

  • Mycobacterium leprae, the bacterium responsible for leprosy, is notorious for its slow growth and ability to evade the immune system

  • MDT for leprosy typically involves a combination of three drugs: rifampicin, clofazimine, and dapsone.

  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the causative agent of TB, can also become resistant to single drugs

  • MDT for TB usually involves four drugs: isoniazid, rifampicin, pyrazinamide, and ethambutol.

New drug regimen for leprosy

  • The Union government has approved a new treatment regimen for leprosy.

  •  Its aiming at stopping its transmission at the sub-national level by 2027

  • A letter written by the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) said the National Leprosy Eradication Programme is taking all the required steps to stop the transmission of the infection.

  • Now with the approval of the competent authority, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has decided to introduce a three-drug regimen for Pauci-Bacillary (PB) cases in place of a two-drug regimen for six months.


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