Over the course of a year, IDRI welcomes hundreds of visitors to tour our labs and learn more about our infectious disease research and product development. Invariably, one thing takes our guests by surprise: leprosy, a disease that many associate with biblical times, still exists.
While global elimination (which is defined as a prevalence rate of less than 1 case per 10,000 people) of leprosy was officially announced in 2000, the fact is a quarter of a million new cases are reported worldwide each year. Although distributed in more than 100 countries, nearly 3 out of every 5 cases are found in India, where the disease was declared eliminated as a public health problem in 2005. Leprosy remains a very real issue in today’s world.
Nearly 15 years after the declaration of elimination on a global scale, media headlines are filled with news about the disease, as World Leprosy Day comes up Sunday, Jan. 25. The declarations of elimination have had far-reaching consequences, ranging from decreases in funding for specialized leprosy research, treatment and rehabilitation programs to the swaying of public and political opinion that the disease is no longer an issue. (more…)