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.
Leprosy can be classified into the following forms:
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. 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. Its effects are not seen soon after as it is a progressive disease and takes ages to reflect properly.
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.
These antibiotics are:
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.