Leprosy is a 21st century problem and GPs should be trained to recognise the early symptoms

In response to today's national story about leprosy cases not being diagnosed in a timely manner in the UK.

Leprosy may be the world's oldest disease but it is a real 21st century problem affecting millions across the globe.  Leprosy causes nerve damage which can lead to injury and, subsequently, severe disability.  The disease is intrinsically linked with poverty and there is immense stigma surrounding the disease in parts of the developing world today with many people affected by leprosy shunned by their families, communities and employers.  

It is, however, a mildly-infectious and easily treatable disease with a combination of antibiotics.  There are around a dozen cases of leprosy diagnosed in the UK each year as a result of infection overseas.  We welcome GPs receiving training so that they can readily spot tell-tale skin patches potentially signalling leprosy in order that the disease can be treated immediately before a person develops life-long disabilities.

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