A total of 241 new cases of leprosy were detected during a survey being carried out in 87 high-endemic blocks spread across 24 districts of Tamil Nadu.
This included 83 children, who were identified through screening at schools.
The survey, Active Leprosy Case Finding, commenced in the 87 blocks on July 2, and will end on July 13. So far, a total of 38,17,120 people have been examined.
As part of the exercise, teams are conducting door-to-door checks, screening at schools and skin camps to detect cases that have been missed. They are also creating awareness in the blocks, according to S. Mohammed Afzal Ali, Additional Director of Medical and Rural Health Services (Leprosy).
Of the 385 rural blocks in Tamil Nadu, 87 have been found to be high endemic blocks. And, of the 117 urban blocks, 13 are high endemic areas, he said.
“These blocks had more than 10 new cases per lakh population last year. According to the Central Leprosy Division, surveys should be taken up in blocks that accounted for more than 10 new cases per lakh population.
“We are taking into account the Annual New Case Detection Rate (ANCDR) as it is a better indicator. So far, leprosy cases are reported when people voluntarily approach health facilities and we have moved towards actively looking for cases through this survey,” he explained.
From April 2017 to March 2018, the State recorded 4,277 new cases, registering an ANCDR of 5.36 per lakh population, S. Thirunavukkarasu, State Leprosy Consultant, pointed out. There were 264 new cases during that period in Chennai alone.
The survey, Dr. Ali said, was helping detect new cases in early stages. Of the 241 fresh cases, 140 were identified through door-to-door surveys, 18 through skin camps and, in the case of 83 children, through school screening.
Except three persons who had grade 2 deformity, others had patches on the skin.
Around 1,500 people were involved in the exercise.
This number included village health nurses, staff of the Integrated Child Development Service scheme, nursing students and volunteers of the National Service Scheme.
“They were trained to conduct the survey and are covering 50 houses per day. During their visits, they display a flash card containing images of skin patches, and ask the residents if anybody in the family has such lesions. They check hands and legs for lesions,” he added.
In case any person has symptoms suggestive of leprosy, he/she will be referred to the supervisor for confirmation.
If the diagnosis is positive, immediate treatment under Multi Drug Therapy will be initiated, he said.
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