5 factors that increases likelihood of leprosy infection

These are the factors that make people more likely to be infected by leprosy – it makes them more susceptible.

  • Children: Although leprosy infection affects people of all ages, children are more easily infected than adults.
  • Residents or visitors to leprosy-endemic areas: Those who live in or visit areas where leprosy is endemic are at high risk of being infected. Examples of endemic areas are United Republic of Tanzania, Mozambique, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Central African Republic, Madagascar, Angola, India, Nepal, China, Japan, Kiribati, Brazil, Federated States of Micronesia, etc.
  • Constant, prolonged, repeated contact: People who are in constant physical contact with infected people have an increased risk of being infected. Most people who come into contact with the leprosy bacteria do not develop leprosy.
  • The state of the immune system: If a person who is exposed to the leprosy-causing bacteria (Mycobacterium leprae) has a strong immune system, the person’s immune system is able to fight the disease and prevent it from spreading. If leprosy develops in such a person, it is usually a milder form of leprosy infection – called tuberculoid leprosy that develops. However, if an individual with a weak immune system is exposed to the leprosy bacteria, his/her immune system is unable to fight the infection and it will spread. This usually results in a more serious form of leprosy infection called lepromatous leprosy. A person’s immune system can be weakened by chronic diseases like heart diseases, diabetes, HIV/AIDS.
  • Susceptible genes: According to research that has been carried out, it has been discovered that there are about seven genes that are susceptible to leprosy. So, people who have these genes are more likely to be infected with leprosy than the general population.

Studies have shown that, 95% of all adults naturally cannot not get the disease even though they are exposed to the leprosy bacteria. Still, it is best to be careful whenever one is in any of the countries where leprosy is common. People should also be careful when around persons infected with leprosy who have not been treated.

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Somso Kizor enjoys words. She loves reading good books and writing - amongst other things. Somso is passionate about educating people about their health; as this would reduce the burden of diseases and deaths (hence, suffering) all over the world. Let's not forget the popular saying that goes "health is wealth." For more details, send an email to info@healthfacts.ng

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