Temporal Analysis of a Case Series of Leprosy Patients From a Low Endemic Area in Brazil and the Magnitude of Disability
Leprosy is an infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium leprae infection. The incubation period after the primary infection can be as long as decades. This bacterium has a tropism for macrophages and Schwann cells and as result neuropathies are frequent. The state of Rio Grande do Norte in northeastern Brazil has areas of low and high endemicity for leprosy. The aim of this study was to analyze a leprosy time series from Rio Grande do Norte, from 2005 to 2014, based on data provided by the Notifiable Diseases Information System from the State Secretariat of Health. This was a quantitative, descriptive and analytical study. We considered variables such as sex, age, clinical form, operational classification and disability grade at diagnosis. There were 3,426 cases of leprosy reported of which 1,781 were females (52%). Of those patients, 29% presented disability at diagnosis. The high level of disability in patients along with the lack of information regarding disability levels indicates the need for more effective measures, with early diagnosis to decrease morbidity as leprosy still remains as a serious public health problem.
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