World Bulletin / News Desk
Doctors will be told on Monday that People with leprosy might be being misdiagnosed because of the rarity of the disease in Britain.
Dermatologists from Cardiff reported two cases in which men who had moved to Britain from Asia were initially thought to have more common skin complaints, the first associating with stigma and fear, and the second may be "masquerading" as other conditions because of the broad range of symptoms.
Ausama Atwan, who will outline the concerns at the Glasgow conference of the British Association of Dermatologists, said the team were not out to alarm people "but it is certainly something that doctors should be mindful of if they encounter patients, especially those originally from endemic countries, with persistent or unexplained lesions, changes to skin pigmentation and sensation."
Given the disease's rarity in Europe, Atwan said "it may easily be misdiagnosed and consequently pose future health risks for patients if missed".
In the past 60 years no case has been confirmed of patients acquiring the disease or catching it from someone else in England and Wales. However reports of between 2001 and 2010 there were 129 cases "imported" from people who had lived in endemic countries, often in south Asia. Public Health England(PHE) said another 38 occurred between 2011 and 2013. Nearly 233,000 cases were reported globally in 2012.
The disease can take 20 years to become apparent due to the fact that its not highly contageous and because the bacteria multipies slowly. Only in minor cases do reduced circulation, muscle loss, and ultimately limb deformity and disability occur. It is curable with early detection and multi-drug treatment.
Prof Ibrahim Abubakar, PHE's expert on leprosy, said: "Leprosy is an extremely rare disease in England and Wales, and all cases are imported. However it remains an important disease globally with 232,857 cases diagnosed in 2012. Although rare in the UK, it is important that people with suspected leprosy receive early diagnosis and expert treatment, using the Public Health England guidance published in theMemorandum on Leprosy".Last Mod: 30 Haziran 2014, 14:31