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Torres and Cape leprosy case

15 December 2017

Health authorities are managing a new case of leprosy in a resident of the Torres Strait region.

“This brings the total number of confirmed cases of leprosy identified in the Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service region so far this year to three,’’ Tropical Public Health Services (Cairns) Director Dr Richard Gair said.

Dr Gair said all three cases were being managed for the condition and were considered to be of low infectivity for the general community.

He said there were no known links between the latest case and the previous two cases.

Contact tracing and screening of close contacts of the latest case is being undertaken.

No further patient information will be provided to protect the patients’ privacy.

Leprosy, or Hansen’s disease, is a chronic infectious disease caused by a slow-growing bacterium.

It is transmitted via droplets from the nose and mouth during close and frequent contacts with untreated cases.

Leprosy is rare and the risk of transmission is confined to close prolonged household contacts.

Contact tracing for close contacts is carried out regularly for all cases.

Leprosy can affect a person’s skin colouring in patches, cause numbness and create a risk of long-term disability.

Treatment for leprosy is prolonged and can take between six and 24 months to complete depending on each individual case.

In addition, close prolonged contacts of leprosy cases require annual clinical and laboratory follow up for six years to ensure they have not acquired any infection.

Last updated: 19 December 2017