Saturday, November 7, 2009

ProTest and Hansen's Disease

Have you heard about their billboard ad campaign?

Have you been vaccinated for leprosy?

No? That’s because there isn't a vaccine available for the prevention of leprosy. And why don't you have leprosy? Here's what Norihisa Ishii, MD, PhD, Director, Department of Bioregulation, Leprosy Research Center, National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Higashimurayama, Tokyo, Japan, has to say in the Dermatology Online Journal:
Leprosy, which was endemic in Western Europe in the medieval period, was eliminated from Scandinavian countries only as recently as the early twentieth century, before the advent of antibiotic therapy. Obviously, this decline must be attributed to improvement in living standards, better housing, clean water supplies, and improved nutrition and hygiene.” (Ishii N. Recent advances in the treatment of leprosy. Dermatol Online J. 2003. Review.)
Yes, there has been research on leprosy using animals. Armadillos are susceptible to the disease and so are severely immunocompromised macaques. But the reasons you don't have leprosy are clean water supplies, good nutrition, and modern sewage systems, no matter how loudly the ProTest goofballs shout that it is otherwise.

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