Anambra State Commissioner for Health, Dr Joe Akabuike has said an average of 4,000 cases of leprosy are reported annually in Nigeria.
Akabuike, in a statement in Awka on Wednesday; to mark World Leprosy Day, said besides the fact that a large number of the cases were children, several of them were diagonised late leading to deformities and disabilities.
Represented by Dr Emma Okafor, the Director of Primary Healthcare, Akabuike described leprosy as “a chronic infectious disease’’ which affect the skin, peripheral nerves and mucus membrane of the upper respiratory tract.
He said the disease could be contacted through droplet infection from coughing, sneezing and nasal discharge.
He enumerated the symptoms and signs of the disease as light or reddish patches, loss of feeling in the skin, numbness or tingling sensation in the hand and feet.
He listed other symptoms: weakness of the hands, feet and eyelids as well as burns on the hands or feet.
The commissioner explained that the disease could be prevented by covering the mouth and nose while coughing and sneezing as well as disposal of nasal discharges properly.
Akabuike said leprosy was curable with drugs and the drugs were free and available in government hospitals.