Thiruvananthapuram: Among the 273 leprosy cases detected in Kerala this year, 21 were identified to be children. Health minister K. K. Shailaja said that the disease rate among children is higher than the average national leprosy rate. The minister also said that they will conduct inspection in all houses for two weeks from December 5.
The inspection will be conducted in eight districts - Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Palakkad, Malappuram, Kozhikode, Kannur and Kasaragod - where more number of cases were detected. One Asha worker and a male volunteer will carry out inspection in houses. Treatment will be provided for those who are diagnosed with the disease.
In 2005, leprosy was declared to be eradicated from the country. A disease is considered to be eradicated, when the number of patient is below one out of 10,000. But at present, the disease rate in Kerala is 0.2 out of 10,000. The rate has been remaining static for a few years.
State Leprosy Officer Dr. Padmalatha said that the percentage of children among leprosy patients in the state has increased from 6.9 percent to 9.42 percent within three years. In 2016-17, 36 children were newly diagnosed with the disease whereas the number of new cases rose to 49 last year. 21 new cases of children were detected from April to September this year.
Patients begin treatment only after the visible deformities are noticed and this has increased in Kerala. About 60-70 percent of the leprosy cases are diagnosed only after they reach a contagious stage and not in the early stages.