The ten lappers. Photo credit: The Clip Art Wizard.

The ten lappers. Photo credit: The Clip Art Wizard.

The Ministry of Health and Medical Services has refuted claims of a leprosy outbreak, saying the increase in cases may only be due to improved health education campaigns.

A Government statement says the Ministry and the WHO work to monitor leprosy cases and identified 24 new cases since January this year.

This compares to 30 cases found in 2013, and 13 cases in 2012.

The statement said the new cases were not a result of the April floods and refuted allegations of an outbreak.

It is said the increase in case detection is due to the improved health education campaigns which targeted the entire Solomon Islands population and to the intensified case finding activities.

It said this made it possible to identify previously undetected cases.

Meanwhile, the Undersecretary for Health Improvement, Dr Tenneth Dalipanda says leprosy is a chronic disease caused by bacteria which mainly affects the skin and nerves, and the bacteria multiplies very slowly.

He adds the time from exposure to developing the disease varies from several months to 30 years.

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