A study of the prevalence of smear-positive leprosy cases in a tertiary care center in the post-elimination phase of leprosy

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BackgroundIndia has declared leprosy to be eliminated in the country, according to the WHO criteria of attaining a prevalence of less than 1 in 10,000. However, smear-positive leprosy cases are frequently being encountered.MethodsThis is an 18-year retrospective study done in the Department of Dermatology and Venereology, Government Medical College, Trivandrum. Data were collected from the records of all cases in the study period, and the prevalence of smear-positive cases was determined in the post-elimination phase and this was compared to the pre-elimination phase.ResultsA total of 901 cases were analyzed, which comprised 538 cases in the pre- and 363 cases in the post-elimination phase. The male/female ratio in the pre and post phases was 2.61 : 1 and 2.45 : 1, respectively. Borderline tuberculoid accounted for the commonest type in both the pre and post phases comprising 45.54 and 50.69%, respectively. Type 2 lepra reactions were seen in 40.21% of the reaction cases in the post-elimination phase. The smear-positive cases in the post-elimination phase accounted for 34.99% compared to 14.68% in the pre-elimination phase. Lepromatous leprosy (LL) accounted for 67.71% of the smear-positive cases in the post phase compared to 67.08% in the pre phase.ConclusionsThere was an increase of 20.30% of smear-positive cases in the post-elimination phase, which was statistically significant (P < 0.001), and the majority of them were LL (P < 0.001).

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