The Provincial Health Office is stepping up its awareness campaign to prevent the spread of leprosy in Negros Occidental.
“The health sector should not let its guard down against leprosy,” Dr. Ernell Tumimbang, provincial health officer, said yesterday, which was World Leprosy Day.
There were 32 leprosy cases reported in Negros Occidental from January to September last year, but the figure could be higher, Tumimbang said.
Kabankalan City had the most number of leprosy cases at 8, followed by Sagay City with 4, Hinobaan – 3, Binalbagan, Ilog and San Enrique – 2 each, and, Calatrava, Cauayan, EB Magalona, Isabela, Pulupandan, Toboso, Cadiz City, Escalante City, Silay City, Sipalay City and Victorias City – 1 each, he said.
Tumimbang said that while 32 cases have been reported there may be others that have not been reported because of failure to properly identify them as leprosy.
That is why the PHO is stepping up the leprosy advocacy campaign by retraining barangay health workers to identify its symptoms, he said.
This is because some cases are being treated as dermatological ailments since it has been a long time since leprosy has been prevalent and health personnel forget to be on the look out for it, Tumimbang added.
If there were 32 cases of leprosy reported the number could increase by five times, as five is the average number of members of a Filipino family who could be contaminated, he added.
He pointed out that those contaminated by leprosy will not manifest signs of it in 5 or 7 days, it could surface in five years and has an up to 15 years incubation period.
Mouth swabs can be used to determine leprosy contamination. Tumimbang added.
He said leprosycanbe transmitted by inhalation of droplet/spray from coughing and sneezing of an untreated leprosy patient.
Signs and symptoms are long standing skin lesions that do not disappear with ordinary treatment, loss of feeling/numbness on the skin, loss of sweating and hair growth over the skin lesions, he said.
In severe cases fingers could fall off, he added.
Immediate treatment is multi-drug therapy.
All cases of leprosyshould be treated to prevent spread of infection, Tumimbang said.
Young children should avoid direct contact with untreated patients, personal hygiene should be practiced, and body resistance should be maintained through healthful livingthat includes good nutrition, enough rest and exercise, and clean environments, he added.
Meanwhile, the PHO reported the death of a 10-year-old childdue to dengue in EB Magalona town this month, the first for 2018.*CPG
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