What is Leprosy?
Leprosy is an infectious disease characterized by disfiguring skin lesions, peripheral nerve damage, and progressive debilitation.
Leprosy is common in many countries in the world, and in temperate, tropical, and subtropical climates. Approximately 100 cases per year are diagnosed in the U.S. Most cases are limited to the South, California, Hawaii, and U.S. island possessions.
Leprosy is also called Hansen's disease.
What Causes Leprosy?
Leprosy is caused by the organism Mycobacteriumleprae.
Symptoms of Leprosy
The most common symptoms of leprosy are:
How is Leprosy Transmitted?
Leprosy is a difficult disease to transmit and has a long incubation period. Children are more susceptible than adults to contracting the disease.
Types of Leprosy
There are two main types of leprosy: tuberculoid and lepromatous. Both tyes of leprosy produce lesions on the skin, but the lepromatous form is most severe, producing large disfiguring nodules.
Can Leprosy be Treated?
Yes. Treatments are aimed to eliminate the microorganism that causes leprosy and to reduce the symptoms. Common treatments include:
Complications of Leprosy
Leprosy can eventually cause cosmetic disfigurement, nerve damage in the extremities, sensory loss in the skin and muscle weakness. People with long-term leprosy may lose the use of their hands or feet due to repeated injury resulting from lack of sensation.
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