Childhood leprosy in an urban clinic, Hyderabad, India: clinical presentation and the role of household contacts

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Jain, S ; Reddy, RG ; Osmani, SN ; Lockwood, DN ; Suneetha, S (2002)
  • Publisher: British Leprosy Relief Assoc

: A retrospective case note study was done of children below the age of 14 years who attended Dhoolpet Leprosy Research Centre (DLRC) over the decade 1990-1999. The aim of the study was to describe the pattern of clinical presentation, the role of household or near neighbour contacts and the incidence of neuritis and reactions. In all, 3118 leprosy patients were registered during this period, of whom 306 were children [182 (60%) male]; 95 children had a single patch, 159 had five or fewer than five patches and 37 had multiple patches. The youngest case detected was 9 months old. The spectrum of leprosy in these children was: TT 62 (20.3%); BT 203 (66.3%); BB 3 (1%); BL 23 (7.5%); LL 5 (1.6%) and PNL 10 (3.3%). Twenty-nine cases (9.4%) were smear positive. Ninety-one children (29.7%) developed a reaction, 86 type I and five type II. A history of contact was present in 119 (38.8%) cases, family contact in 113 (95%) and other than family in six (5%). Classification of the contact was available in only 60 patients. Among the contacts of the index case, 21 (35%) suffered from PB leprosy and 39 (65%) from MB leprosy. All contacts were from the immediate family. This study shows that childhood leprosy cases continue to present in significant numbers to this outpatient clinic. There is a high level of family contact with leprosy in these cases, strengthening the strategy of screening children in leprosy-affected households. The high incidence of reactions and nerve damage in children emphasizes the importance of early detection and treatment.<br/>
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