World Leprosy Day is observed on Sunday 27th January 2019 across the globe. However, in India, we celebrate World Leprosy Day on the 30th of January each year that coincides the death of Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi Ji died on 30th January in the year 1948 and to honour his tireless efforts towards the people affected by leprosy. The main aim of the day observed as World Leprosy Day is to raise awareness about the disease and the stigma attached to it. Leprosy since the beginning of time has been looked down upon, and people having the disease have been facing discrimination. The condition is much worse than bias- in the previous time with lack of knowledge and awareness among people, the ones suffering from the disease were treated terribly. They were almost ousted from society and sometimes even subject to harassment. Leprosy Returns to India: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment and Prevention of One of the LEAST Infectious Diseases in the World.
Sadly, some of such behaviours exist even till now, and only a handful of people know the real facts about the disease. Here are some of the common myths about Leprosy that exist in the society and the facts.
1. Myth- Leprosy is contagious, and even the mere presence of a person with leprosy can affect you.
Fact- Hansen's disease of leprosy is not completely communicable and according to CDC over 95 per cent of the adults cannot catch the diseases because of their strong immune system. Moreover sitting next to someone having the disease or casual contacts such as a handshake and talking to the person will not communicate the condition to you.
2. Myth- Fingers and toes of the person suffering from Leprosy fall off.
Fact- It is not the disease that causes the fingers and toes to fall off, in fact, the bacteria attacks the nerves of the fingers and toes and makes them numb. Moreover, the cuts and burns of the numb parts get ignored and may turn into an infection causing permanent damage. Burns and cuts on numb parts may go unnoticed, which may lead to infection and permanent damage, especially in the advanced stages of the disease.
3. Myth- Leprosy is caused by sin or curse.
Fact- Someone's action or curse has nothing to do with Leprosy it is caused by slow-growing bacterium Mycobacterium leprae.
4. Myth- Having Leprosy requires the person to live in an exclusive house away from other healthy people.
Fact- People having leprosy can lead a normal life if they are being treated with antibiotics. They can meet family and friends and also attend work or school.
5. Myth- Leprosy means the person with the disease will ultimately die.
Fact- Antibiotics work miraculously on Leprosy, and one can be cured with its treatment.
6. Myth- Only a complete treatment of leprosy an ensure that you don't catch the disease from someone who is having it.
Fact- Soon after a few days of starting the antibiotics treatment, the person is non-contagious. However, to ensure that the disease doesn't come back the treatment shouldn't stop in between.
Historical texts and ancient writings have described leprosy in a feeble light. Leprosy described in the ancient literature is more of a gamut of skin conditions that were noted to be contagious, and present-day leprosy is entirely different.