Screening for leprosy infections in residences in the Chennai Corporation limits has been intensified. A number of residents suspected to have infections have been asked to report to the nearest Corporation health post. “A group of officials came on Saturday to my house and conducted a screening. They identified some spots on the skin and asked me to go to the Chennai Corporation health post as soon as possible,” said Indirani, a resident of Royapuram zone.

“The officials went to all the houses in our locality. All the children were screened,” she added.

“They identified spots on my skin. The officials asked me not to be scared,” said Ramya, a school student who was at home on Saturday. “This is the first time such a screening has been conducted by officials,” said another resident.

“The officials informed us that leprosy will cause permanent physical disability and stressed the need for timely diagnosis and treatment, before nerve damage occurred,” the resident added.

Leprosy is a chronic infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium leprae. It usually affects the skin and peripheral nerves.

Nearly 12,305 child cases were detected during the past year in the country. 16 States and Union Territories have also shown an increase in the number of cases. Leprosy was eliminated (having less than 1 patient per 10,000 population) in 2005 yet the country accounts for close to 58 per cent of the cases in the world.

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