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Madagascar experiencing new cases of leprosy

As economic and social insecurity rises in Madagascar, new cases of leprosy are beginning to emerge, IRIN reports.

Leprosy is sometimes referred to as the disease of the poor, because people who have food security and access to healthcare rarely get it. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that the disease is not typically contagious, though it can be spread by living in close quarters with someone who has it and goes untreated.

People with weak immune systems due to lack of proper nutrition and access to doctors are much more vulnerable and if untreated, the disease can cause progressive and irreversible damage to a persons' skin, nerves, limbs and eyes, WHO reports.

New bouts of the disease could be due in part to the two year economic decline stemming from political instability in 2009 that led to fighting between the military and the government. Since then, Madagascar has lost the support of outside aid and humanitarian groups set up to help the public, according to the news outlet.

UNICEF reports that the healthcare system continues to lose funding, which could lead to more cases of leprosy in the future. Thus far, five new cases have been diagnosed.
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