Multidrug therapy for leprosy: a game changer on the path to elimination

by Cairns S Smith, Ann Aerts, Paul Saunderson et al.
Lancet Infect Dis 2017; Vol. 17, No. 9, e293–e297, September 2017

5 pp. 111 kB

Leprosy is present in more than 100 countries, where it remains a major cause of peripheral neuropathy and disability. Attempts to eliminate the disease have faced various obstacles, including characteristics of the causative bacillus Mycobacterium leprae: the long incubation period, limited knowledge about its mode of transmission, and its poor growth on culture media. Fortunately, the leprosy bacillus is sensitive to several antibiotics. In 1981, WHO recommended that all registered patients with leprosy should receive combination therapy with three antibiotics: rifampicin, clofazimine, and dapsone. Since 2000, about 250 000 new cases of leprosy have been detected every year. The authors believe an all-out campaign by a global leprosy coalition is needed to bring that figure down to zero.

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