A 28-year-old Haitian national living in Chile, has been confirmed as the first case of leprosy in the South American nation in recent years.
Director of the Chilean Department of Health, Dr. Patricio Rosas, said tests done on the un-named 28-year-old resident of Panguipulli at the Base Valdivia Hospital last week, had confirmed it was leprosy. That’s a disease that has become very rare in Chile.
Rosas said that the patient was under treatment. Health experts say the disease could be effectively cured by multidrug therapy consisting of three antibiotics, which eliminates leprosy over a period of a few months.
Chile’s Health Minister, Carmen Castillo, has sought to re-assure the population. She indicated only three other cases had been reported at the national level and that the patients were currently under treatment.
Leprosy is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium “Mycobacterium leprae” which causes skin lesions and nerve damage. Without treatment, these lesions progress and become permanent and disabling, affecting the skin, the nerves, the limbs and the eyes.
Symptoms include clear or red skin lesions, reduced sensitivity and numbness in the hands and feet. The incubation period of the disease is five years on average, but the symptoms can sometimes appear only after 20 years.