Leprosy primary prevention

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: João André Alves Silva, M.D. [2]


Primary prevention of leprosy includes immunoprophylaxis, chemoprophylaxis and education of the populations to prevent infection by the Mycobacterium leprae.

Primary prevention

There are still endemic regions in the world affected by leprosy. Due to international travels, these may be a source of the bacteria for the rest world. There is still no adequate tool for the early detection of leprosy. Immunoprophylaxis studies in different population groups with the BCG vaccine, alone or in combination with killed Mycobacterium leprae or atypical Mycobacteria, have shown an efficacy of 28 to 60%. A good coverage of BCG vaccine is still a major contribution to reduce the impact of leprosy in populations.[1]

Chemoprophylaxis of chronic infectious diseases has also shown benefits, particularly in populations with higher risk of infection with leprosy. However, it is still early to define chemoprophylaxis as a public health measure, as more trials are needed to demonstrate safety, efficacy and cost-effectiveness of these therapies.[1]

Other important element of primary prevention is the education of populations. Immediate contacts of leprosy patients have higher risk of being infected, therefore they should be aware of the condition, its transmission and what to do to minimize this risk.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Enhanced Global Strategy for Further Reducing the Disease Burden due to Leprosy" (PDF).