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Introduction[edit | edit source]

Leprosy is a chronic infectious bacterial disease affecting the nerves, skin, eyes, and muscosa of upper respiratory tract. Leprosy was renamed Hansen’s disease after Norwegian scientist Gerhard Henrik Armauer Hansen, who in 1873 discovered the slow-growing bacterium now known as Mycobacterium leprae as the cause of the illness.

Leprosy is curable and treatment in the early stages can prevent disability. It can be cured with multidrug treatment regime, if early diagnosis is made.

World Leprosy Day is observed on the last Sunday of January each year. Established in 1954 by French philanthropist Raoul Follereau, it aims to raise awareness about leprosy (now called Hansen’s disease) and teach people about this ancient disease that is easily curable today.

Epidemiology[edit | edit source]

Around the world:

  • The number of new cases reported globally to World Health Organization (WHO)external icon in 2019 was more than 200,000.
  • Close to 15,000 children were diagnosed with Hansen’s disease in 2019, more than 40 a day.
  • An estimated 2 to 3 million people are living with Hansen’s disease-related disabilities globally.
  • In 2019, the countries with the highest number of new diagnoses were India, Brazil, and Indonesia.
  • Over half of all new cases of Hansen’s disease are diagnosed in India, which remains home to a third of the world’s poor, a group disproportionately affected by the disease.[1]
  • Among the new cases, 10 816 new cases were detected with grade- 2 disabilities (G2D) and the G2D rate was recorded at 1.4 per million population.[2]

Mycobacterium leprae[edit | edit source]

Mycobacterium leprae is

  • an intracellular, pleomorphic, acid-fast, pathogenic bacterium
  • an aerobic bacillus (rod-shaped bacterium)
  • in size and shape, it closely resembles Mycobacterium tuberculosis
  • The difficulty in culturing the organism appears to be because it is an obligate intracellular parasite that lacks many necessary genes for independent survival.
  • grown in mouse foot pads and more recently in nine-banded armadillos
  • It multiplies slowly. On average, the disease incubation period is 5 years but symptoms may occur within 1 year. It can also take as long as 20 years or even more to occur.

Mode of transmission[edit | edit source]

  • The bacillus is likely transmitted via droplets, from the nose and mouth, during close and frequent contact with untreated cases.[2]

Clinically Relevant Anatomy
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Mechanism of Injury / Pathological Process
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Clinical Presentation[edit | edit source]

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Diagnostic Procedures[edit | edit source]

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Outcome Measures[edit | edit source]

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Management / Interventions
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Differential Diagnosis
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References[edit | edit source]