The Irish health authority has confirmed the first case of leprosy in Ireland in living memory but has reassured the public that there is no cause for concern.

The victim, who is understood to be a native of South America in his 30s is believed to have contracted the disease outside of Ireland and was thought to have suffered from the condition in the past. The disease was discovered at a County Meath clinic. The doctor who treated him stated he presented for a disease seen  “more in the Middle Ages than on a busy morning clinic in Co Meath”.
The case was reported to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre by the Health Service Executive’s Dublin North East division earlier this year when the man was treated in a Dublin hospital. However, the HSE reassured the public that there was no cause for concern as the disease is not highly contagious, writes the

Leprosy can be cured but it has a long incubation period and the first symptoms may only appear between 5-20 years after first contact with it. It is transmitted by small droplets from the mouth and nose “during close and frequent contacts with untreated cases," the HSE said.

Leprosy is more common in Asia and Africa with official figures showing that “almost 182 000 people, mainly in Asia and Africa, were affected at the beginning of 2012, with approximately 219 000 new cases reported during 2011,” according to the World Health Organization.

The reassures that, contrary to popular belief “the disease does not result in the loss of body parts, and mainly affects the skin and outer nerves. However, in secondary cases, fingers and toes can shorten and eventually re

It is not known when the last case was formally recorded in Ireland, however, HSE data suggests no cases were officially reported between 1981 and 2012.