UNLABELLED: Leprosy is a chronic infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium leprae. The disease more frequently affects the nasal mucosa and can occur independently of its clinical form or even before lesions on the skin or on other parts of the body. It is necessary to employ epidemiological surveillance of household contacts with new leprosy cases for early disease diagnosis.
AIM: identify specific and early leprosy lesions through endoscopic, baciloscopy, histopathology exams, and real time polymerase chain reaction of the nasal cavity mucosa on household and peridomiciliary contacts with positive serology for the phenolic glycolipid 1 antigen.
METHODOLOGY: Between 2003 at 2006 there was a prospective cross-sectional clinical study with 31 contacts with patients with leprosy with positive serology against PGL-1, 05 negative controls and 01 positive control.
RESULTS: Between seropositive contacts, real-time PCR was positive for M. leprae DNA in 06 (19.35%) of them and the higher number of genome copies were found in contacts who became sick.
CONCLUSION: Nasal mucosa tests alone did not enable the early diagnosis of Leprosy. However, through the combination of various methods, tests on the contacts can help identify subclinical infection and monitor the contacts that could be responsible for spreading the disease.