Leprosy on the rise with more than 140,000 cases of horror disease worldwide

Leprosy is on the rise around the world, according to the World Health Organisation – and it is hitting countries close to the UK.

Although the disease officially left our shores in 1798, more than 140,000 cases were reported worldwide in 2021.

That marks a 10% increase on the previous year, and it has worried scientific experts.

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Also known as Hansen's Disease, the horror condition is when the skin becomes infected by a slow-growing bacteria called Mycobacterium Leprae.

This, as is depicted in many horror films, sees the infected person's skin begin to peel off.

It is, however, curable.

But despite leaving the UK centuries ago, many other countries are still battling it – including India, and several African countries.

And 10 cases were found in Spain last year.

Lucrecia Acosta, head of molecular diagnosis of leprosy at the Fontilles Foundation told El Pais: “Leprosy is not a high priority and is not lethal, so it always comes last.

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“On top of that, it’s a disease that no country wants to have, because it’s considered bad for the national image, and so that’s why there has always been an under-reporting of cases.

“There are thousands of patients who are not included in WHO records.”

The Daily Star has contacted the UK Government, to find out about any potential unreported or under-reporting of cases in the UK.

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The World Health Organisation has claimed that it wants the world to be leprosy free by 2030.

A spokesman said: “After detailed consultations with countries, experts, partners and persons affected by leprosy, WHO released the Towards Zero Leprosy: global leprosy (Hansen’s disease) strategy 2021–2030 aligned to the neglected tropical diseases road map 2021–2030.

“The Strategy calls for a vision of zero leprosy: zero infection and disease, zero disability, zero stigma and discrimination and the elimination of leprosy (defined as interruption of transmission) as its goal.”

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