Persisting leprosy transmission despite increased control measures in an endemic cluster in Brazil: the unfinished agenda

Department of Community Health, School of Medicine, Federal University of Ceará, Fortaleza, Brazil.
Leprosy review (Impact Factor: 0.67). 12/2012; 83(4):344-53.
Source: PubMed


To provide an evidence base for improvement of leprosy control in Brazil's high transmission areas.
We obtained data from municipalities in a major disease cluster from databases for notifiable diseases of four states (Maranhão, Parâ, Tocantins, Piauí), including notifications from 2001 to 2009. Indicators for monitoring and evaluation of leprosy according to the World Health Organization were evaluated with emphasis on the rates of new cases presenting grade-2 disabilities and among children < 15 years of age, indicating late diagnosis and active transmission, respectively.
A total of 82,463 leprosy cases were detected in the area (mean annual case detection rate: 95.9/100,000; RR = 4.56 as compared to the rest of Brazil; 95% CI: 4.45-4.66, P < 0.0001). There was a steady decrease of detection rates in the study period, from 100.8 to 75.6/100,000 inhabitants. In children <15 years of age, 9,009 cases of leprosy were detected (28.40/100,000), significantly more than in the rest of Brazil (RR = 5.80; 95% CI: 5.39-6.25, P < 0.0001). New cases with grade-2 disabilities/100,000 population maintained a stable trend at a high level (4.43 cluster vs. 1.28 rest of country; RR = 3.46; 95% CI: 3.11-3.84, P < 0.0001), whereas the proportion of new cases with grade-2 was slightly lower than the country's average (5.51% vs. 6.75%; RR = 0.84; 95% CI: 0.81-0.86, P < 0.0001).
Despite recently improved leprosy control measures, there is still major active transmission and late diagnosis in the cluster. Further specific actions are needed to improve early case detection and prompt treatment with the aim to reduce disease burden in the population, considering social inequities.

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Available from: Alberto Novaes Ramos Jr,
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    • "Thus, this indicator should be prioritized for monitoring control measures (World Health Organization 2009; Oliveira et al. 2010; Alberts et al. 2011; Declercq 2011). In the cluster, there were 3811 cases diagnosed with grade-2 disability, a rate of 4.43 cases per 100 000 inhabitants (Alencar et al. 2011 "
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    ABSTRACT: Objective  The Brazilian National Hansen's Disease Control Program recently identified clusters with high disease transmission. Herein, we present different spatial analytical approaches to define highly vulnerable areas in one of these clusters. Method  The study area included 373 municipalities in the four Brazilian states Maranhão, Pará, Tocantins and Piauí. Spatial analysis was based on municipalities as the observation unit, considering the following disease indicators: (i) rate of new cases/100 000 population, (ii) rate of cases <15 years/100 000 population, (iii) new cases with grade-2 disability/100 000 population and (iv) proportion of new cases with grade-2 disabilities. We performed descriptive spatial analysis, local empirical Bayesian analysis and spatial scan statistic. Results  A total of 254 (68.0%) municipalities were classified as hyperendemic (mean annual detection rates >40 cases/100 000 inhabitants). There was a concentration of municipalities with higher detection rates in Pará and in the center of Maranhão. Spatial scan statistic identified 23 likely clusters of new leprosy case detection rates, most of them localized in these two states. These clusters included only 32% of the total population, but 55.4% of new leprosy cases. We also identified 16 significant clusters for the detection rate <15 years and 11 likely clusters of new cases with grade-2. Several clusters of new cases with grade-2/population overlap with those of new cases detection and detection of children <15 years of age. The proportion of new cases with grade-2 did not reveal any significant clusters. Conclusions  Several municipality clusters for high leprosy transmission and late diagnosis were identified in an endemic area using different statistical approaches. Spatial scan statistic is adequate to validate and confirm high-risk leprosy areas for transmission and late diagnosis, identified using descriptive spatial analysis and using local empirical Bayesian method. National and State leprosy control programs urgently need to intensify control actions in these highly vulnerable municipalities.
    Tropical Medicine & International Health 01/2012; 17(4):518-25. DOI:10.1111/j.1365-3156.2011.02945.x · 2.33 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We assessed diagnosis and consequences of leprosy reactions as perceived by affected individuals. A cross-sectional study was performed in five municipalities in an endemic disease cluster in Brazil. Structured interviews included 280 leprosy-affected individuals who had experienced reactions after release from treatment (RFT), 2007-2009. Open questions included information on diagnostic features of leprosy reactions, sensory loss and self-perceived changes in life after experiencing leprosy reactions. In this study, 43.2% were diagnosed with reaction during multi-drug therapy. In the majority of cases, the patient himself/herself perceived disease symptoms first (n=240; 85.8%). Primary Health Care Centres were the first entry point into the health system for 95/150 (63.3%). In 72.6% of these, leprosy diagnosis was made within the primary care setting. Patientperceived signs and symptoms of reactions included skin lesions (42%) and neurological symptoms (39%). In total, 216/280 (77.1%) stated that they had perceived changes in life. Physical impairments limiting possibilities to work and reduced income were mentioned commonly (n=118; 54.6%). Discrimination and social isolation were also experienced. Our study indicates an inadequate response of health services for individuals with reactions after RFT. An integrated approach is needed, including physical, psychological care and self-care groups. Keywords: leprosy; biological reactions; health of the disabled.