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Leprosy in Far North Queensland

February 25, 2021
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People with leprosy, a chronic granulomatous disease caused by leprosy bacillus , classically present with hypopigmented or erythematous, anaesthetic skin lesions or thickened peripheral nerves. Leprosy are often cured with antibiotics, but severe deformity and future disability are common if therapy is delayed.

Leprosy is now very rarely acquired in Australia, but it’s still diagnosed; Indigenous Australians in remote locations bear the best burden of disease.1,2 Historically, its incidence has been highest within the Northern Territory , but cases also are diagnosed in Far North Queensland (FNQ), a neighborhood that adjoins Papua New Guinea (PNG), where leprosy remains endemic.

Since 1985, Torres Strait Islander Australians and PNG nationals are ready to move freely across the border to pursue traditional activities within the Torres Strait Protected Zone. This arrangement acknowledges the importance of their shared cultural history, but also means FNQ clinicians may encounter conditions that are rare in temperate Australia. The potential public health implications also are clear.

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