The antibiotic rifampicin can prevent infection
The spread of leprosy can be checked by giving medication to the friends and family of sufferers, recent Dutch research discovered.
The antibiotic rifampicin can prevent infection, according to a study by the Erasmus University Rotterdam and the Royal Tropical Institute in Amsterdam. The drug is one of the ingredients of MDT, a cocktail of three antibiotics used against leprosy that was introduced worldwide in the 1980s. After taking MDT for just a few days, patients are no longer infectious, and they are fully cured after a course lasting six to twelve months.
Leprosy’s long incubation period of between two and five years makes it hard to control the spread of the disease. If patients’ family, friends, neighbours, and colleagues are given a single dose of rifampicin, the Dutch study found, their chance of infection is halved.
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