Leprosy and leprosy patients at Ullevaal University hospital 1970-2003
BackgroundLeprosy is a rare chronic infectious disease in Norway, occurring as imported cases from endemic countries. We aimed to describe the population of patients with leprosy in terms of sociodemographical data, disease manifestations, comorbidity and treatment.
Methods15 patients, treated for leprosy in the period 1970-2003 at Ullevaal University hospital, were included in the study. The study is based on medical records, and was designed to include all patients with leprosy in this period.
FindingsThe patients had the following characteristics: Mean age 29 years, none were native Norwegians, 60 % were diagnosed in Norway and all groups according to Ridley-Jopling’s classification were present. A large subgroup consisting of eight patients were immigrants from Vietnam during and shortly after the Vietnam War. The most prominent comorbidity was chronic viral hepatitis, which was present among 40 % of the patients (95% CI 15 – 65%). The diagnoses of leprosy were based on biopsy (33%), clinical findings (33%), skin smear (20%), nasal smear (7%) and a combination of tests (7%). All the patients had skin manifestations; other organs affected were: periferous nervous system (87%), eyes (27%), nose (27%), testicles (13%) and joints (20%). Initial treatment regimen was dapsone monotherapy for two of the patients and multidrug therapy for thirteen patients. Total length of treatment decreased significantly during the period. Severe adverse effects due to treatment occurred in 47% and sequelae of the disease in 93% of the patients.
InterpretationLeprosy is a minor problem in Norway occurring exclusively among immigrants. However it causes considerable morbidity to those affected.