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Mosquitoes cause leprosy?

Findings indicate that leprosy germs could be transferred from a patient to others, writes Sandip Chowdhury.

india Updated: Feb 03, 2006 01:34 IST
Sandip Chowdhury
Sandip Chowdhury

At a time when India seems to be winning the battle against leprosy, scientists from Kolkata have made a startling claim: mosquitoes can spread leprosy.

The findings made by researchers at the Calcutta School of Tropical Medicine indicate that leprosy germs could be transferred from a patient to a healthy person through contaminated proboscis of mosquitoes.

According to a report in Leprosy in India, Mycobacterium leprae — the germ that causes leprosy — remains alive in the proboscis of Aedes aegypti or the tiger mosquito for approximately 156 hours after it bites a leprosy patient.

The team allowed laboratory-reared Aedes aegypti females to feed on the nodules of untreated leprosy patients. Thereafter, the mosquitoes were made to vite Swiss albino mice. Examination of the bitten portion of the skin of each mouse showed the presence of the germ in 80 per cent of the extracts, Dr Amiya Kumar Hati, former director of the school said.

Explains Dr Debashis Biswas, entomologist, “The mode of transmission in this case is absolutely mechanical."

First Published: Feb 03, 2006 01:34 IST