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PIA Press Release

DOH XI urges public vigilance on hansen disease

by AD Cahilog

Davao City (12 February) -- The Department of Health – XI together with the Center for Health Development-Davao Region had asked everyone for the continuous effort to search for leprosy cases including children and adults in the region.

Leprosy or Hansen's disease has been known to be eliminated in 1998 at the National Level with a prevalence rate of less that 1/10,000 population.

However, at the sub-national level like in Davao Region, the 2007 data showed an upsurge of new cases in all of the provinces with more detected and treated in Davao City.

Detecting new cases at an early stage would help prevent deformities and disabilities, considering the long incubation period of the disease which is from 3-15 years with an average 3 to 5 years.

It was in 1873, Dr. Armauer Hansen of Norway discovered the bacteria (Mycobacterium Leprae and Mycobacterium Lepromatosis) that causes of this chronic disease.

Early signs and symptoms of the disease manifest spots on the skin lightly redder, darker or lighter than the person normal skin and the spot may lose feeling and hair.

A mycobacterium Leprae and Mycobacterium Lepromatosis bacterium attacks the nerves of hands and feet that causes numbness on the fingers and toes of the patient.

Severe cases may cause deformities in hands, feet, face and the eyes. The deformation may cause its infection leading to the lost of fingers and toes.

The Center for Health Development –Davao Region is currently intensifying its detection campaign as they commemorate the month of February as Leprosy Awareness Month with February 16-20, 2009 as the Leprosy Week.

This year's theme is "Facing the Challenges Towards a Leprosy – Free Philippines." In line with the commemoration is the conduct of Kilatis Kutis Campaign (Skin Clinic) at the strategic areas in Davao City.

Preventing complications and by letting others know that the disease is mildly contagious and is curable will help the inflicted ones live a normal life in the community. (PIA-XI) [top]

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