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Re: “A Freed Man

Leprosy is treatable and curable; a combination of drugs, dapsone, rifamphin, clofasomine, can arrest the progression w/i a week. Drug treatment can last from 1 to 2 years, depending of the severity of the infection of Mycobacterium Leprase (causitive agent). 95% of the world's population is naturally immuned to M. Leprae. Only 1% of those who are seceptible end up developing the disease.

If the periferal nerves have been damaged (and they usually are) that damage is typically permanent and may lead to disfigurement if the patient does not take preventative measures or change potentially harmful activities in his/her daily life (such as NOT working on a hot automobile engine) Special shoes may be necessary to protect the feet, other prevention of damage may be as simple as using pot holders, gloves, etc., when working. Damage to periferal nerves lead to insensitivity to pain; repeat injury causes infection that causes erosion of the bone and tissue over many years. Hence the damage that leads to deformity associated with leprosy.

The national program for the treatment and rehab of leprosy still exists (National Hansen's Disease Programs, HQ in Baton Rouge, LA) as does a museum (in Carville, LA) to tell the stories of those who were diagnosed and treated at "Carville" (5000 patients from 1894 to the 1980's) Post 1980s, a dozen outpatient clinics were established in the US; it's now an outpatient disease, forced quarantine for leprosy ended in LA in 1957.

There are roughly 100-200 new cases of leprosy diagnosed in the US every year. Worldwide, approximately 500,000 new cases of leprosy diagnosed.

Misinformation and Biblical references keep fear and stigma live. Get educated! Patients (Stanley Stein, Betty Martin, DJ LeBeau, Jose Ramirez) have written autobiographies and memoirs about their time living in quarantine at Carville, and (several) continue the story to include successful treatment and life outside the hospital. Visit your local public library, bookstore, or contact the Nat'l HD Museum 225/642-1950, for more information and books by patients.

5 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by eschex on 06/04/2009 at 7:19 AM


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