by Mycobacterium leprae or M. lepromatosis bacteria. It is a slowly developing, progressive disease that can be asymptomatic for 5 to 20 years.
Leprosy is not highly infectious, but can be transmitted via droplets, from the nose and mouth, during close and frequent contacts with untreated cases.
The types of leprosy disease are classified based on the number of bacteria present:
The main symptoms of leprosy include:
numbness in the hands, arms, feet, and legs
skin lesions (have decreased sensation to touch, temperature, or pain, don’t heal after several weeks and are lighter than your normal skin tone)
Other symptoms are:
loss of digits
facial disfigurement may develop
Complications that may arise from delayed diagnosis and treatment of leprosy include:
hair loss, particularly on the eyebrows and eyelashes
permanent nerve damage in the arms and legs
inability to use the hands and feet
chronic nasal congestion, nosebleeds, and collapse of the nasal septum
iritis (inflammation of the iris of the eye)
glaucoma (an eye disease that causes damage to the optic nerve)
erectile dysfunction and infertility
The best way to prevent leprosy is to avoid long-term, close contact with an untreated, infected person.
A multidrug therapy developed by WHO in 1995 is used to cure all types of leprosy. It is available free of charge worldwide. Also, several antibiotics such as; Dapsone, rifampin, clofazamine, minocycline and ofloxacin, can be used to treat leprosy by killing the bacteria that causes it.
Compiled by; eDokita Team.
Maureen Donohue and Steven Kim; Leprosy. Healthline. 2015
WHO; Leprosy fact sheet. 2016
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Hansen’s disease (Leprosy).2013
Suzuki K, Akama T, Kawashima A, Yoshihara A, Yotsu RR and Ishii N “Current status of leprosy: epidemiology, basic science and clinical perspectives.”.The Journal of dermatology.39 (2): 121–9. doi:10.1111/j.1346-8138.2011.01370.x. PMID 21973237.
Charles Patrick Davis and Melissa Conrad Stöppler; Leprosy (Hansen’s disease). MedicineNet.com 2016.