Leprosy in children
Children are believed to be the most vulnerable group to infection with Mycobacterium leprae due to their immature or nascent immunity and exposure to intrafamilial contacts. The child proportion among newly detected cases of leprosy is a strong indicator of continued transmission of the disease and one of the main targets of the current World Health Organization strategy is “to reduce transmission of the disease and reduction of grade-2 disability among new child cases.” Despite an effective treatment and global achievement of leprosy elimination, the childhood leprosy proportion has not improved significantly. Leprosy in children does not just affect a child's health like other diseases; they can be stigmatized, bullied, and shunned for their lives. Hence, effective planning to bring down the incidence of leprosy and its complications in children should become a top priority. Regular school surveys and annual contact surveys for early detection of cases is therefore an important tool in achieving the goal of elimination of leprosy. In addition to continuing to administer multidrug therapy to patients, new preventive approaches need to be considered to break the chain of transmission and reach zero disease status.