Saturday, June 8, 2013
The Irish health authority has confirmed the first case of leprosy in Ireland in living memory
The victim, a native of South America in his 30s contracted the disease outside of Ireland and was thought to have suffered from the condition in the past. The disease was discovered at a County Meath clinic. The doctor who treated him stated he presented for a disease seen “more in the Middle Ages than on a busy morning clinic in Co Meath”. The case was reported to the Health Protection Surveillance Center by the Health Service Executive’s Dublin North East division earlier in 2013 when the man was treated in a Dublin hospital. Leprosy can be cured but it has a long incubation period and the first symptoms may only appear between 5-20 years after first contact with it. It is transmitted by small droplets from the mouth and nose “during close and frequent contacts with untreated cases," the HSE said. Leprosy is more common in Asia and Africa with official figures showing that “almost 182,000 people, mainly in Asia and Africa, were affected at the beginning of 2012, with approximately 219,000 new cases reported during 2011,” according to the World Health Organization.