What is the prevalence of drug-resistant leprosy?

Updated: Jun 05, 2020
  • Author: Darvin Scott Smith, MD, MSc, DTM&H; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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Observations of increasing resistance in patients treated for leprosy have been reported in Southeast Asia, notably in Vietnam. [20] Although drug resistance is an ongoing concern, it is difficult to assess in this slow-growing organism. In a study of M leprae strains from South America, few of 230 strains subjected to molecular drug-susceptibility analysis were drug-resistant. Of the 230 strains, 3 were identified as clinically relapsing and were found to be resistant by genetic testing; 2 of the 3 were dapsone-resistant; and 1 was dapsone-resistant and rifampin-resistant using genetic testing for point mutation. [21] The map below shows distribution of rifampicin-resistant leprosy in 2015.

Map of countries reporting rifampicin resistance i Map of countries reporting rifampicin resistance in leprosy between 2009 and 2015. Courtesy of the WHO.

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