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Leprosy is an infectious disease caused by the acid-fast, rod-shaped bacillus, Mycobacterium leprae. The disease primarily affects the skin, the peripheral nerves, the upper respiratory tract mucosa and the eyes.Leprosy is healable, and early-stage care may reduce impairment.

Key facts

Leprosy is a bacillus-caused infectious disease, Mycobacterium leprae.
M. Leprosy multiplies gradually, and the maximum incubation period is 5 years. Symptoms may occur within 1 year, but may also take up to 20 years or even more. The disease primarily affects the skin, the peripheral nerves, the upper respiratory tract mucosa and the eyes. Leprosy is curable with multidrug therapy (MDT). During near and regular contact with untreated cases, leprosy is likely transmitted by droplets, from the nose and mouth. Leprosy without treatment can cause progressive and permanent damage to the skin, nerves, limbs, and eyes.

What Causes Leprosy?

A type of bacteria which is slow to grow, called Mycobacterium leprae (M. leprae), causes leprosy. Leprosy, after the scientist who discovered M, is also known as Hansen's disease. In 1873 the leprae.

What Are the Symptoms of Leprosy?

Leprosy mainly affects the skin and nerves outside the brain and spinal cord, the peripheral nerves being named. It can also reach the eyes and the thin tissue that covers the nose within. Leprosy's main symptom is to disfigure skin sores, lumps, or bumps which do not go away after several weeks or months. The sores in the skin are pale in colour. Nerve damage can lead to:

Loss of feeling in the arms and legs

Muscle weakness
It usually takes around 3 to 5 years for symptoms to occur after contact with the bacteria which causes leprosy. Many people's signs only grow 20 years later. The time between bacteria contact and the onset of symptoms is called the period of incubation. The long incubation period of leprosy makes it very hard for doctors to determine when and where a person with leprosy gets infected.

Forms of Leprosy

Leprosy is determined by the number and type of skin sores you suffer. Specific symptoms and diagnosis are depending on your form of leprosy. The types are:

Tuberculoid : A mild form of leprosy, which is less serious. Individuals with this type have only one or a few patches of clear, pale skin (paucibacillary leprosy). The affected skin area can feel numb because of underlying nerve damage. Tuberculoid leprosy is less contagious in comparison to other forms.

• Severe pain
• Muscle Weakness
• Skin stiffness and dryness
• Loss of fingers and toes
• Eye problems
• Blindness
• Enlarged nerves

Lepromatous : A more severe type of the disease. It has extensive bumps and rashes in the skin (multibacillary leprosy), numbness, and muscle weakness. It may also affect the nose, the kidneys and male reproductive organs. It is more contagious than leprous tuberculosis.

• Thickened skin on face
• Nasal stuffiness
• Bloody nose
• Laryngitis
• Collapsing of nose
• Swelling of the lymph nodes in the groin and armpits
• Scarring of the testes that leads to infertility
• Enlargement of male breasts
Borderline : The signs of tuberculoid and lepromatous types are present in people with this type of leprosy.

How Is Leprosy Diagnosed?

If you have a suspected skin sore, the doctor will take a small sample of the infected skin and send it to a laboratory for testing. That is called biopsy of the skin. You may also do a skin smear test. Several bacteria will be found in paucibacillary leprosy. In contrast, one person with multibacillary leprosy is expected to find bacteria on a skin smear test.

How Is Leprosy Treated?

Could cure leprosy. Sixteen million people with leprosy have been cured in the last two decades. The World Health Organization provides free treatment to all leprosy sufferers.
Treatment is based on what sort of leprosy you have. The infection is treated with antibiotics. Long-term care with two or more antibiotics, typically from six months to a year, is recommended. People with severe leprosy may need to take longer on antibiotics. Antibiotics can not cure damage to the nerves.

Anti-inflammatory drugs are used to regulate the leprosy-related nerve pain and damage. This could include hormones, for example prednisone.
Thalidomide, a potent drug that suppresses the body's immune system, may also be given to patients with leprosy. This helps to treat skin nodules that have leprosy. Thalidomide is known to cause serious, life-threatening birth defects, and women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant should never take it.


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