Our objective was to study current trends in the occurrence of new cases of leprosy (Hansen's disease [HD]) a decade after significant operational changes in the National Leprosy Elimination Program (NLEP) were enacted by shortening the duration of multi-drug treatment for multibacillary cases of HD to 12 months and stopping post-treatment follow-up.


The percentages represented by newly diagnosed cases of HD among all new patients attending the dermatology outpatient department (OPD) from April 2008 to March 2011 were calculated from hospital records. Patient age and sex, and type of disease were noted in each case, and annual data were compared. The OPD data were also matched with population data for the catchment area of the hospital (i.e. the South 24-Parganas district).


There was a slight annual decline in the percentage of new cases represented by HD, but this was not statistically significant. This trend broadly corroborated changes in the annual new case detection rate in the catchment area of the hospital. In addition, the percentage of HD cases represented by paucibacillary disease was significantly higher than that represented by multibacillary HD (P = 0.0072).


To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study of this type to be conducted in eastern India. The present data indicate that significant transmission of HD is ongoing in the community.