Factors associated with leprosy in a municipality of the Pre-Amazon region, state of Maranhão, Brazil

Abstract INTRODUCTION: The Integrated Program of Leprosy Control was initiated in the municipality of Buriticupu, Maranhão, Brazil, an area considered hyperendemic for leprosy in 2003. It aims at assessing the clinical and epidemiological characteristics of the disease to reduce the detection rate of new cases until 2015. Here, we present the evolution of the indicators of leprosy within the period from 2003 to 2015. METHODS: We conducted a descriptive analytical study based on the active search for and voluntary referral of cases of leprosy. The detection rate of new cases was analyzed over time. We included individuals diagnosed with leprosy between January 2003 and December 2015. The association between categorical variables was assessed using the chi-square test of independence, considering a level of significance of 5%. When the association was significant, the detection rate (with a confidence interval of 95%) was calculated. RESULTS: Overall, 879 new leprosy cases were detected; the majority of the affected individuals were men (65.9%). Multibacillary leprosy was the most common type of the disease, according to the operational classification (55.5%); it showed the strongest association with an age ≥60 years. We also detected an association between the male sex and both, lepromatous and multibacillary leprosy. The detection rate reduced from 211.09/100,000 population in 2003 to 50.26/100,000 population in 2015. CONCLUSIONS: We found an improvement in leprosy control, with a reduction in the detection rate and the absolute number of cases. Strengthening of disease control measures should be prioritized to eliminate leprosy as a public health concern in this municipality.