Public health officials announced earlier today that two children were tested for leprosy, and one of them received positive results.
The officials were quick to point out that the no one else was at risk of contracting the disease. Both the school the two boys were attending and their community were safe.
The two children attend Indian Hills Elementary School, in Jurupa Valley. A local doctor had diagnosed the two with leprosy, a condition known as Hansen’s disease within the medical community.
The National Hansen’s Disease Research Program sent in their results earlier this week. only one of the two boys actually had the disease.
Public health authorities stress the fact that, contrary to popular belief, it is very difficult to contract leprosy. As such, the children’s classmates are safe. And, at any rate, their classroom underwent a thorough sanitization process after the initial results of the tests came in.
Most people, about 95% to be precise, are naturally immune to leprosy. In the US, there are about 150 cases of leprosy each year.
There are a lot of myths surrounding this disease, most of them unfounded. For one, the typical account of how leprosy affects the body involves loss of limbs. Another longstanding myth is that leprosy is extremely contagious.
In truth, it takes a very long time before a person contracts the disease. And it cannot be contracted through short-term contact. Not even sexual contact spreads the disease.
Officials are careful about protecting the identity of the students in question. To this end, they will not release any details about how the boy got the disease in the first place.
According to Elliot Duchon, district superintendent, “The only way to protect the two students is for nobody to know who they are”.
Duchon sent out emails to the children’s parents, to notify them about the results of the tests. He was also at their school on Thursday to provide the other parents with information.
Leprosy – A Highly Misunderstood Disease
There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding this disease. For this reason, people who suffer from it are often times unfairly ostracized. In some countries, people who are diagnosed with leprosy are kept in quarantine, in spite of the fact that most of the times they do not pose a threat for the rest of the population.
After coming in contact with the germ, it may take up to 5 years until symptoms start to show. In some cases, the incubation period may last as long as 20 years. And in others, the bacteria may lie dormant, and the patient never develops the disease at all.
The bacteria that causes leprosy is easy to treat with antibiotics. Within just a few days of treatment, the bacteria die, and the patient is no longer contagious. However, it does take a year or two until the germ is completely eliminated from the body.
If left untreated, leprosy can cause severe nerve damage. This can lead to loss of sensations, and subsequently disability. In some cases, it may result in loss of limbs. Leprosy can also affect the nerve endings in the fact, and can cause blindness as a result.
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