Role of contact tracing and prevention strategies in the interruption of leprosy transmission.
The global prevalence of leprosy has declined from 5.2 million in the 1980 s to 200,000 today. However, the new case detection rate remains high: over the last 8 years, around 220,000 – 250,000 people have been diagnosed with leprosy each year. In June 2013, an international meeting was organised by the Novartis Foundation for Sustainable Development in Geneva, Switzerland, with the objective of discussing the feasibility of interrupting the transmission of leprosy. The group of physicians, epidemiologists and public health professionals concluded that a successful programme would require early diagnosis and prompt multidrug therapy (MDT) for all patients, tracing and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) for contacts of patients newly diagnosed with leprosy, improvements in diagnostic tools, as well as strict epidemiological surveillance and response systems to monitor progress.