explanatory Essay
3861 words
3861 words


Leprosy (Hansen's Disease), sometimes called "Hanseniasis" or "H.D.," is a chronic my cobacterial disease of man, caused by Mycobacterium leprae (infectious in some cases), primarily affecting the peripheral nerves and secondarily involving skin and certain other tissues/organs, in particular the eye, mucosa of the nasal and upper respiratory tract and also the testes. In most cultures, HD still carries a strong stigma that sometimes makes more trouble for the patient that the actual leprosy itself.

One of the main characteristics of Leprosy is its ability to affect the various nervous systems of the body, particularly the peripheral nerves. The key targets of M.leprae (Mycobacterium leprae) are the nerves' Schwann Cells. Leprosy does not affect the Central Nervous System. Where the sensory nerves are damaged, in varying degrees, they cannot register pain. Where those nerves supply the extremities of hands and feet, the latter are vulnerable to burns and other injuries that can often result in the loss of fingers and toes and sometimes hands and feet. Where the eye is affected, corneal anesthesia. Cranial Nerve involvement, can often lead to blindness, where the lack of health education makes the sufferer unaware of the means to prevent injury due to dust or other irritants. Where the motor nerves are involved, various forms of paralysis such as "Dropped Foot", "Dropped Wrist", "Clawed Hand", "Lagophthalmos" (eye cannot close due to nerve paralysis) can result. Where the autonomic nerves are damaged, the hair follicle, particularly in the cooler areas such as the eye-brows, can often result in the loss of hair in the affected parts. Damage to the autonomic nerves also can result in poor or no function of the sweat and sebaceous glands. This causes a drying of the skin and consequent cracking, exposing the sufferer to secondary infection.

Leprosy is not a curse from the gods or divine punishment for some sins committed in the past. Leprosy is a disease like any other disease and it is TOTALLY CURABLE. Another myth that still prevails, even in "educated" societies, is that the disease causes flesh to rot and fingers and toes to "drop off". Nothing could be further from the truth. Tragically, limbs that are damaged, because the victim cannot feel pain, sometimes have to be amputated but, we can now detect the disease before the patient is conscio...

... middle of paper ...

... dissolves the germ by certain chemicals or enzymes. The second type of protective mechanism is specific and the body's defense system can only "recognize" a foreign invader if it has experience in this identification of certain antigens. In Lepromatous patients, their macrophages can ingest the M.leprae but cannot digest (kill) because there are no "T-Type" ("T" for Thymus, the gland that programs these cells) lymphocytes to assist the macrophages to produce the needful digestive juices or enzymes. So, in the case of Lepromatous leprosy, the very cells that are meant to kill off the bacilli, are actually transporting them around the body and providing an environment in which they may even be able to multiply.

At the present time though, leprosy cannot be prevented. Research on a preventive vaccine, however, is slowly progressing. This vaccine will be used the same way we use vaccines of Smallpox, Typhoid, Cholera, Plaque, and etc. A vaccine of killed or weakened leprosy bacilli will be used to immunize everyone from the disease. Already, a vaccine of killed leprosy bacilli has been used to immunize mice and armadillos against leprosy. Millions people will need to receive MDT.

In this essay, the author

  • Explains that leprosy (hansen's disease) is a chronic mycobacterial disease of man caused by mycobacterium leprae.
  • Explains that leprosy affects the various nervous systems of the body, particularly the peripheral nerves.
  • Explains there are two main types of leprosy: lepromatous and tuberculoid. borderline and indeterminate form one of the two principle types.
  • Explains that mycobacterium leprae is the widespread, anergic form of the disease. it spreads up the nerves but does not adhere to them as in the tuberculoid form.
  • Describes the localized form of leprosy, which is due to a combination of bacterial proliferation and the immunologic responses of the host bacilli.
  • Explains that m. leprae affects people who are unable to resist infection. the first sign of the disease is hypopigmented skin macules with little sensory loss confined to the lesion.
  • Explains that lepromatous and tuberculoid leprosy can be divided into two types: upgrading and downgraded. borderline leptus resembles bt except the lesions are selectively anesthetic and show varying degrees of distinctness in their borders.
  • Explains the method of classification of leprosy, which was established in madrid at the sixth international congress in 1953.
  • Explains that tt and bt are referred to as paucibacillary leprosy, whereas ll is infectious.
  • Explains that leprosy is a disease of the nervous system, but not all nerves are affected. the peripheral and cutaneous nervous systems can be infiltrated by m. leprae bacilli and then, secondarily, the skin.
  • Describes an erythematous or hypopigmented patch of skin with loss of sensation to either/or/and touch, pain, temperature.
  • Explains that it is essential to know the salient points of leprosy. without a knowledge of these, it's possible to confuse it with about 30 other conditions.
  • Explains that leprosy is not a curse from the gods or divine punishment for some sins committed in the past.
  • Explains that leprosy has not been accurately described and distinguished from other diseases with similar appearances until 1847.
  • Explains that hansen's disease is a communicable disease and the human-being is the only known source for infecting other humans.
  • Explains that m. leprae can survive outside the human host for several days or even weeks. however, the transmission of skin contact can not be ruled out.
  • Explains that there may be anaesthesia or numbness with/or "pins and needles" or "ants crawling" in any area, and weakening of the small muscles or disability in the hands or feet.
  • Explains that the majority of h.d. cases can be diagnosed on the basis of the above two signs.
  • Explains that in early leprosy lesions, it may be necessary to perform three tests: skin examination by histo-pathology, histamine phosphate in one drop, and pilocarpine nitrate intradermally.
  • Explains that mdt uses three main drugs in the treatment of leprosy: dapsone, rifampicin, and clofazamine.
  • Explains that the body's defense mechanism recognizes the invading germs as "antigens" in the case of leprosy.
Get Access