(London Guardian) The first lesions appeared on teenager Rammurat’s feet. To those in his village near Gorakhpur, in the vast Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, the cause of the pale sores was clear.
“Some said it was black magic. Some said it was the spirit of the dead catching us,” he recalls.
“What will people think? What will the neighbours think?” he wondered when finally diagnosed at a nearby mission hospital – too late to entirely save his feet. “People used to hate looking at a leprosy patient. You see a lady [with symptoms] coming into the village, they will run away.”
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India is officially leprosy free, meaning the disease afflicts fewer than one in 10,000 people. But specialists understand the true infection rate to be far higher, and the disease is still endemic in some of the country’s poorest districts.