Also known as Hansen’s disease, Leprosy is a kind of skin infection that is caused due to bacteria called Mycobacterium leprae, which causes a progressive, chronic bacterial infection called leprosy. The nerves in the nose’s lining, the upper respiratory tract and in the extremities get affected by it.
Leprosy produces nerve damage, muscle weakness and skin sores. If not treated, it may result in significant disability and severe disfigurement. Leprosy is quite common in lots of countries, especially those having subtropical or tropical climates.
Leprosy is mainly found on the skin, it affects the nerves especially nerves outside the brain and spinal cord. Some more organs are also included in the leprosy infection which includes eyes, and thin tissue lining inside the nose.
Leprosy is a disease that looks like an ulcer and the skin becomes pale and discolored. The affected area of the skin also loses sensation.
According to WHO the prevalence rate of leprosy corresponds to 0.2/10,000. Globally 159 countries are affected with leprosy.
Generally, Leprosy is categorized into three types:
According to WHO, Leprosy is divided into:
Ridley-Jopling classification: It includes five categories of leprosy:
Symptoms might not show up till 20 years. The doctor can carry out a physical examination to search for symptoms and telltale signs of the disease. The symptoms of leprosy include the following:
The main cause of leprosy is Mycobacterium leprae which is a kind of bacteria. It is a kind of slow-growing bacteria and was discovered by M. leprae.
Leprosy can spread from one person to another by droplets which can be nasal secretion or through sexual activity. Its effects are not seen soon after as it is a progressive disease and takes ages to reflect properly.
Leprosy is the disease that is said to be mildly contagious as it is not an airborne disease but is communicable through sexual activities and nasal secretion.
Leprosy is a chronic infectious disease that is contagious. It can be transmitted from an infected person to the non-infected ones through contact with body fluids as well as rashes. The risk, however, to acquire the infection is relatively lower, still, precautions need to be taken.
Leprosy is a chronic infectious disease that affects the skin. The term used for the individual who is infected with this disease is “leper’’. The word itself expresses the meaning which is unacceptable or untouchable. It was considered a stigma and the affected individuals had to face racial discrimination.
Leprosy is a contagious skin infection that spreads through contact with an infected person’s body fluids and rashes. As the incubation period of the bacteria causing Leprosy i.e mycobacterium leprae, varies usually between two to ten years, the duration for which an infected person remains contagious is 5 years on average. However, the duration may extend up to 20 years in some cases.
The existence of Leprosy is evident by the occurrence of cases in various parts of the world. The United States has witnessed a resurgence of the disease. The number of cases is 150 to 250 per year in the US, while it being more common in Central and South America shows a total number of 20000 new cases per year.
These are the risk factors for leprosy:
The doctor can carry out a physical examination to search for symptoms and telltale signs of the disease. They also carry out scraping or skin biopsy.
The doctor removes a small part of the skin and sends the sample to the lab for testing. They might even conduct lepromin test of the skin for determining the kind of leprosy.
The doctor injects a tiny amount of leprosy inducing bacteria in the skin, usually in the upper part of the fore arm. People having borderline tuberculoid or tuberculoid leprosy have irritation at the site of injection.
The treatment of leprosy is dependent upon antibiotics and it is the only means used for the treatment. If a person is suffering from leprosy then he/she is given MTD that is multi-drug treatment and the drugs are never used as monotherapy or single.
The infection is treated with the help of antibiotics and if the treatment is long term and the duration extends from six months to one year then two or more antibiotics are used.
But antibiotics can only treat the damaged skin and not the damaged nerves. The use of anti-inflammatory drugs is also done in order to treat the infection, pain, and inflammation during leprosy. Some steroids are also used which includes prednisone.
Patients who suffer from this disease mostly experience a weaker immune system thus thalidomide is given to make the immune system stronger. This helps in the treatment of leprosy skin nodules.
The World Health Organization has come up with a multiple drug therapy for curing all kinds of leprosy. It is available worldwide for free of cost. Quite a few antibiotics are also available for killing the leprosy causing bacteria. Your doctor might prescribe multiple antibiotics at once. The antibiotics are:
Leprosy is a bacterial infection that can be cured. The treatment was discovered decades ago and has been modified since then. Dapsone is the first anti-Leprosy medicine that had a long duration of treatment. After that, Rifampicin and Clofazimine drugs were included in the treatment as multidrug therapy(MDT). The MDT has been recommended by WHO and now includes three drugs namely Dapsone, Rifampicin, and Clofazimine.
Vaccines have been discovered so far for the prevention of Leprosy. BCG i.e Bacillus Calmette Guerin vaccine has been promoted as a preventive measure against the disease. However, the efficacy of the vaccine is somewhat different as compared to the efficacy in the case of tuberculosis which also considers the same vaccine as preventive measures.
These are the complications that a person who is suffering from leprosy can have:
There is no exact prevention for this disease as it spreads through nasal droplets therefore to avoid leprosy you should avoid close contact with the person who is suffering from leprosy and is prone to the infection.
Summary: Leprosy is no longer something to fear. The disease is rare. It's also treatable. Most people lead a normal life during and after treatment.
One of the causes for the development of Leprosy is inadequate and improper consumption of food, which leads to deficiency of nutrition in the body of the affected individual. This results in the weakening of the immune system which makes the body more prone to infection. Food items that should be preferred to be taken include fresh fruits and vegetables, milk, eggs, meat, fish, etc.
Summary: Leprosy is a chronic contagious skin infection that spreads through contact with an infected person’s body fluids and rashes. It can be cured by certain medications such as Dapsone, Rifampicin, and Clofazimine. However, the preventive measures include vaccination. BCG i.e Bacillus Calmette Guerin vaccine is usually preferred in the condition.