What is Leprosy?
Leprosy is a chronic, infections disease caused by a bacillus, Mycrobacterium leprae, which was discovered by Dr. Gerhard H.A. Hansen in Norway in 1873. This disproved theories that the disease was hereditary and made possible to search for a cure.
Leprosy primarily involves, skin and mucous membranes. If untreated, there can be progressive and permanent damage to the skin, limbs and eyes, with early diagnosis and treatment, no disabilities need occur
How do you get leprosy?
Most people have a natural immunity to leprosy
Leprosy is very difficult to contract. It is believed to be transmitted by direct, person-to-person contact, usually repetitive, over a prolonged period of time.
Leprosy is not transmitted through casual contact.
Leprosy is not hereditary.
Can Leprosy be cured?
In 1941, Dr. Guy Faget first used a sulfone drug, Promin, in the treatment of leprosy at the U.S. Public Health Service Hospital in Carville, Louisiana. Additional sulfone drugs were then developed, including dapsone.
In 1981, a combination of three drugs - dapsone, rifampicin and clofazimine, known as Multi-Drug Therapy (MDT) - made it possible to cure the disease more rapidly.
Treatment with MDT takes from six months to two years depending on an individual's immunity and the number of bacilli present.
MDT renders even the most severe cases non-infectious within a few day or weeks of treatment.
Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent the disabilities traditionally associated with leprosy. Unfortunately, in many parts of the world, fear, ignorance and the persistent social stigma prevent many from seeking treatment or feeling completely cured.
If leprosy is curable, why
is there such a stigma
attached to the disease?
The origins of the stigma are based on the disease as it appeared hundreds of years ago and have no place in modern society.
The stigma has been handed down from generation to generation in all parts of the world in many cultural ways.
How do disabilities in hands and feet occur?
With early treatment, no disabilities need occur.
Without early treatment nerve injury can lead to a loss of feeling in a person's hands and feet, which renders them more vulnerable to repeated injury and infection. If infection occurs, bones can be reabsorbed which may result in fingers and toes becoming shortened.
Unfortunately, the stigma associated with the disease deters many individuals from seeking treatment early.
Is leprosy fatal?