Prevention of leprosy using rifampicin as chemoprophylaxis.
An intervention study was implemented on five Indonesian islands highly endemic for leprosy to determine whether rifampicin can be used as chemoprophylaxis to prevent leprosy. The population was actively screened before the intervention and subsequently once a year for three years. In the control group, no chemoprophylaxis was given. In the contact group, chemoprophylaxis was only given to contacts of leprosy patients and in the blanket group to all eligible persons. The cohort consisted of 3,965 persons. The yearly incidence rate in the control group was 39/10,000; the cumulative incidence after three years was significantly lower in the blanket group (P = 0.031). No difference was found between the contact and the control groups (P = 0.93). Whether this apparent reduced leprosy incidence in the first three years in the blanket group is due to a delayed development of leprosy or a complete clearance of infection needs to be determined.