Factors associated with the development of leprosy in Brazilian contacts: a systematic review
People who interact with leprosy patients in their environment, neighborhood, family, or social relationships are at risk to develop the disease. This systematic review investigated the risk and protective factors associated with the development of leprosy in Brazilian contacts. The studies were found in Cochrane Library, PubMed (MEDLINE), Embase, Virtual Health Library, grey literature and hand search until July 2021. The study selection, data extraction and quality assessment were independently performed by two investigators. The quality assessment was performed using the Newcastle-Ottawa Scale (NOS). This review was registered in PROSPERO (CRD42020160680). Seventeen articles fulfilled the inclusion criteria (n=544). The immunological and molecular factors, such as Anti-phenolic Glycolipid Antibodies (Anti-PGL-1) seropositivity, negative Mitsuda test, absence of Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) scar, positive Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) in blood; age and race; conviviality, education, contact time and type of contact, as well as elements related to the index case (bacilloscopic index; genetic conditions, family relationships), and some combined factors were shown to be relevant risk factors associated with the development of the disease in Brazilian leprosy contacts. The protective factors reported were the presence of one or more BCG scars, positive Mitsuda test, and education level. All selected studies were considered of high quality according to NOS. The knowledge of disease-related risk and protective factors provides the scientific basis for decision-making in the management of the disease in leprosy contacts.