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A statement from CIU lecturer on the World Leprosy Week

Cyprus International University Health Sciences Faculty, Head of Social Services Department Assist. Prof. Dr. Afet Erkut Özyapıcı gave a statement on the “World Leprosy Week".

Head of Department Özyapıcı explained that the last week of January is referred to as the “World Leprosy Week” and the last Sunday of the month is commemorated as the “World Leprosy Day” with the purpose to increase public awareness and information on the disease.

 

In 1876, Armauer Hansen discovered that leprosy was a long term infection caused by “Mycobacterium laprae”, and it was also named after him as Hansen’s disease. Assist. Prof. Dr. Özyapıcı expressed that the disease primarily affects peripheral nerves and the skin is highly contagious. Özyapıcı explained that although there is not  evidence on the specific date and source of leprosy, the first written account of it dates to 600 BC from India and China. The first recorded cases in these countries and in Egypt is thought to have spread through commerce, migration and war. Özyapıcı stated that the disease is currently found as endemic in Europe; Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Cyprus and southern parts of Russia.

Head of Social Work Department Özyapıcı explained that Lepra basil, whose only reservoir are humans,  is an intracellular microorganism that is almost identical to tuberculosis,and is passed on through with long-lasting and frequent contact with the droplets of the exposed mouth and nasal secretions. Özyapıcı added that It can sometimes be 25 years to be able to see symptoms that result from the very slow proliferation of the causative bacteria of the disease, which has an incubation period of 3-12 years. Özyapıcı explained that the

The disease is located in the peripheral nerve which feeds the bacillus, skin and muscles. The skin region supported by these nerves feed led to the formation of light and dark patches on the region.Özyapıcı also stressed that another symptom of this is numbness in that area. “As the disease progresses the skin around the hands, feet and face becomes numb, the muscles become paralyzed and deformities occur. Other symptoms may include blurry vision,vision loss, bone problems, nose-bleeds, vocal impairment, pour on the outer sides of muscles, loss of facial hair, tenosynovitis, lympodenopathy, oedema in hands or feet, pain in testicles and infertility”.

Health Sciences Faculty, Head of Social Work Department Assistant Professor Doctor Afet Erkut Özyapıcı expressed that the he treatment of the disease is possible with early diagnosis of the illness without any permanent damage and added that the treatment is possible for free with multi-drug treatment protocol approved by World Health Organization (WHO) around the world. Özyapıcı stated that the public needs to be informed about the illness so that the fear created on Leprosy and Leprosy patients due to the misconceptions and false beliefs could be eradicated. Özyapıcı finally stated that, “Every passing day, as the number of the number of leprosy patients decrease, it is more important not to disregard them but to create the psychologic support, love, closeness they may require so that they may be reintegrated to the society”.

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