Doctors confirm leprosy has re-emerged in Torres Strait

A patient in the Torres Strait has been diagnosed with leprosy
A patient in the Torres Strait has been diagnosed with leprosy

DOCTORS are treating a patient in the Torres Strait for leprosy, the second time this year the bacterial disease has been confirmed in the region.

Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service medical superintendent Dr Tony Brown confirmed a resident of the Torres Strait had tested positive for Hansen's disease, commonly known as leprosy.

He said the patient was being managed for the condition and was considered to be of low infectivity.

"Leprosy is rare and the risk of transmission is confined to close-prolonged household contacts," he said.

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

It is the second case of leprosy identified in the health district this year.

Another case identified early this year had a known history of contact with a previous case of leprosy identified in North Queensland several years ago.

Leprosy is a chronic infectious disease caused by a slow-growing bacteria.

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

The disease can lead to disfiguring skin sores, cause numbness and result in loss of tissue.

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

Throughout Queensland there were five reported cases of the infectious disease last year.

The Far North has a long history with leprosy. Colonies were established at False Cape near Yarrabah and Dayman Island in the Torres Strait in the late 1800s.

According to the World Health Organisation there were only 211,973 new cases of leprosy reported globally in 2015.

Topics:  disease doctor leprosy torres strait

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