Childhood leprosy in the postelimination era: A vision achieved or a concern growing at large
Background: The proportion of childhood leprosy has been gaining importance of late as a performance indicator of the National Leprosy Eradication Program. A sizable proportion of the newly detected cases comprises children. The prevalence rate has been used as a measure of existence of infection though leprosy has attained elimination levels in the country. Materials and Methods: A retrospective descriptive study was conducted. Case records of children newly diagnosed with leprosy age <15 years between April 2005 and October 2015 were studied and included in the study. Findings such as patches, nerve thickness, spectrum of leprosy, grade of deformity, smear status, presence of reaction, histopathological diagnosis, and treatment history were noted. Results: The percentage of childhood leprosy among the newly diagnosed cases in our study was found to be 11.2%. A solitary skin lesion was the most frequent manifestation in 64.4% children. The second most common finding seen in these patients included the presence of thickened nerves in 46.6% children. Smear showed acid-fast bacilli in 8.8% cases. Conclusion: There is an urgent need for improving clinical acumen in diagnosing childhood leprosy. The importance of appropriate and complete treatment along with meticulous surveillance in endemic areas and looking for household contacts needs to be stressed on.