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Leprosy near eradication

The final eradication of leprosy may be possible in the not-too-distant future with a drug treatment that the World Health Organization will begin testing this month in Asia, Africa and South America.

WHO researchers believe that the anti-bacterial drugs ofloxacin and rifampicin are the most powerful anti-leprosy treatment ever discovered.

Ofloxacin is a 5-year-old antibiotic, and rifampicin has been around for nearly 30 years. Together, they eliminate all leprosy organisms in the body in one month. A currently used three-drug therapy takes six months to four years to overcome the disease.

"This should make the treatment of leprosy far more acceptable to many patients who balk at taking drugs for months or years," said Dr. Hiroshi Nakajima, WHO's director-general.

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