Beggars can spread leprosy
Beggars may be a hidden reservoir of the leprosy bacteria and thus might be crucial transmitters of leprosy in India, says a study funded by the Indian Council of Medical Research.
The study carried out in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, by the Leprosy Research and Training Centre in Tamil Nadu, screened 193 beggars and found that 58 of them were active carriers of the infection. Though leprosy becomes non-communicable after a period of time, these beggars were found to be smear positive and thus could easily transmit the disease.
A growing incidence of the condition was recently noted in Delhi and it was suggested that beggars might be a potential cause for this. Since beggars usually operate in crowded places like markets and bus stands, they are easily liable to transmit the disease to others. It was also found that they are usually in constant touch with their relatives and non-affected peers who are not screened for the disease. This makes the possibility of infection grow in a larger proportion of the population.
The authors suggest that the contacts of these carriers should be screened for the disease, and the beggars should themselves be covered for treatment under the Multi-Drug Therapy (MDT) regime.
November 23, 2000 (PTI)
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