First cases of Mycobacterium leprae (Hansen’s disease) detection in Côte d’Ivoire using molecular diagnosis (PCR)
Leprosy is a skin disease caused by Mycobacterium leprae. It is the second mycobacterial disease after tuberculosis still presenting a public health problem in many countries today. With the advent of multidrug therapy in 1982, much progress has been made in the fight against this disease, which causes severe social consequences. Côte d’Ivoire, like many African countries, reached the elimination threshold of disease and MDT is available throughout the country. However, Côte d’Ivoire has not managed to break the chain of transmission of M. leprae. Thus, in the country where leprosy is endemic, the number of Grade II disabilities observed remains significant.
Methods and results
The diagnosis of infection is often made by default, based only on clinical and microscopic evidence; we are committed to implementing PCR, a previously unavailable diagnostic tool, to help confirm suspected leprosy cases. Samples consisting of nasal mucus and slits skin smears were collected from 39 suspect cases for confirmation by PCR. DNA was extracted and amplified, targeting M. leprae repeated elements (RLEP). Results showed a PCR positivity rate of 38.5%. PCR products of the repetitive elements were sequenced and BLASTn analysis confirmed that the amplified products obtained were part of the M. leprae genome.
PCR is now available for confirmation of leprosy cases in Côte d’Ivoire. This will help to reduce the consequences of leprosy and promote its elimination.