PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- Regional health authorities are set to verify new reports of leprosy affecting eight people in a southern Palawan town.

DOH-MIMAROPA Regional Director Eduardo Janairo said Wednesday morning that although the report about the affected residents in Rizal town has not reached him, they have to be medically examined and treated.

“Not yet, not yet. We have to get them for check-up immediately and treatment. If they’re not treated, the bacterial infection can spread and affect others,” Janairo said.

If indeed true, Janairo said people should be careful as leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease, can spread through mucus of a disease-ridden individual.

“Contracting the bacterial infection all depends on the physiology of the person, or his/her resistance. If a person is prone to a lot of skin disease, he/she can immediately have leprosy. We will send our people to look into this,” Janairo stated.

In October, the Palawan Provincial Health Office (PHO) said it has confirmed eight cases in the town of Rizal from a family of Pala’wan indigenous peoples.

Dr. Mary Ann Navarro, in earlier interview with the local media, was quoted that the residents who were afflicted by the bacterial infection were detected following the conduct of “Kilatis Kutis”, a leprosy awareness campaign organized by the Municipal Health Office (MHO) and Rural Health Unit (RHU) personnel of Rizal.

Palawan used to host a sanitarium for leper patients in the island of Culion which now housed a museum.

The World Health Organization said the elimination of leprosy as a public health problem, which is defined as a registered prevalence of less than one case per 10,000 population, was achieved worldwide in 2000. (PNA)