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- Created 2012-02-23
, also known as
), is a
infection caused by the
. Named after
Gerhard Armauer Hansen
, leprosy is primarily a
tous disease of the
upper respiratory tract
; skin lesions are the primary external sign. Left untreated, leprosy can be progressive, causing permanent damage to the skin, nerves, limbs and eyes. Contrary to folklore, leprosy does not cause body parts to fall off, although they can become numb or diseased as a result of secondary infections; these occur as a result of the body's defenses being compromised by the primary disease. Secondary infections, in turn, can result in tissue loss causing fingers and toes to become shortened and deformed, as cartilage is absorbed into the body.
Treatment for multibacillary leprosy consists of
taken over 12 months. Single dose MDT for single lesion leprosy consists of
. The move toward single-dose treatment strategies has reduced the rates of disease in some regions.
World Leprosy Day
was created to draw awareness to those affected by leprosy.
In 1995, the
World Health Organization
(WHO) estimated that between 2 and 3 million people were permanently disabled because of leprosy at that time. In the past 20 years, 15 million people worldwide have been cured of leprosy.
Leprosy has affected humanity for over 4,000 years, and was recognized in the civilizations of
. Although the forced
or segregation of patients is unnecessary in places where adequate treatments are available, many
still remain around the world in countries such as
(where there are still more than 1,000 leper colonies),
. Leprosy was once believed to be highly contagious and was treated with
— all of which applied to
, which was first described in 1530. It is possible that many early cases thought to be leprosy could have actually been syphilis. The age-old
associated with the advanced form of leprosy lingers in many areas, and remains a major obstacle to self-reporting and early treatment. Effective treatment first appeared in the late 1940s. Resistance has developed to initial treatment. It was not until the introduction of multidrug therapy (MDT) in the early 1980s that the disease could be diagnosed and treated successfully within the community.
from Wikipedia (last updated: 20 May), licensed under
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Documentary film about leprosy
Self-Care: Leprosy-related disabilities
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