The Leprosy Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (LPEP) programme: update and interim analysis
Innovative approaches are required to further enhance leprosy control, reduce the number of people developing leprosy, and curb transmission. Early case detection, contact screening, and chemoprophylaxis currently is the most promising approach to achieve this goal. The Leprosy Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (LPEP) programme generates evidence on the feasibility of integrating contact tracing and single-dose rifampicin (SDR) administration into routine leprosy control activities in different settings.
The LPEP programme is implemented within the leprosy control programmes of Brazil, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Tanzania. Focus is on three key interventions: tracing the contacts of newly diagnosed leprosy patients; screening the contacts for leprosy; and administering SDR to eligible contacts. Country-specific protocol adaptations refer to contact definition, minimal age for SDR, and staff involved. Central coordination, detailed documentation and rigorous supervision ensure quality evidence.
Around 2 years of field work had been completed in seven countries by July 2017. The 5,941 enrolled index patients (89·4% of the registered) identified a total of 123,311 contacts, of which 99·1% were traced and screened. Among them, 406 new leprosy patients were identified (329/100,000), and 10,883 (8·9%) were excluded from SDR for various reasons. Also, 785 contacts (0·7%) refused the prophylactic treatment with SDR. Overall, SDR was administered to 89·0% of the listed contacts.
Post-exposure prophylaxis with SDR is safe; can be integrated into the routines of different leprosy control programmes; and is generally well accepted by index patients, their contacts and the health workforce. The programme has also invigorated local leprosy control.