Knowing what leprosy prevention entails is useful, as this disease is usually discovered late in Nigeria. And in the late stage of leprosy, a lot of disabilities and complications caused by the disease have occurred. So, it is vital that the methods of leprosy prevention are known by all.
Leprosy prevention involves the following:
- Contact with the nasal secretions and/or droplets of an infected person should be avoided.
- Infected people should be treated with the right antibiotics, as well as, the appropriate dosage, for a sufficient period of time. This helps to reduce their ability to spread the disease.
- The animals that are known to be able to spread leprosy should be avoided.
- While, being careful not to ostracise lepers, it is wise not to live with them – especially when they have not been treated. This is because living with untreated lepers increases the likelihood of the uninfected person coming in contact with the nasal secretions and droplets of the infected person. And this increases the chances of being infected.
- Early diagnosis and treatment of leprosy is important, not only to avoid complications of the disease, but also for prevention of the disease altogether. When the disease is diagnosed and treated early, the risk of it being spread is reduced.
- Those who live in the same house as lepers should be closely monitored for signs and symptoms of leprosy, so that early diagnosis and treatment can be commenced.
- Educating communities and raising awareness concerning the disease is crucial in leprosy prevention. This would let more people know what the disease is really about – the causes and risk factors, routes of transmission, the symptoms, treatment and the steps to take in avoiding it. The knowledge would debunk myths and inaccurate beliefs concerning leprosy. It would also inform them on the importance of going to a hospital as soon as suspicious skin lesions are seen, and the benefits of early treatment.
There is no available vaccine that gives people complete immunity against leprosy. The BCG vaccine gives different people varying levels of protection from leprosy. It is able to confer some level of immunity because BCG is a vaccine against tuberculosis; and the bacteria that cause tuberculosis and leprosy both belong to the same “family” – they are both mycobacteria, but are different species.