What is Leprosy?
Leprosy, known since biblical times, also called Hansen’s disease, is a chronic infectious disease that affects the peripheral nerves, skin, upper respiratory tract, eyes and nasal mucosa. It causes skin sores that are disfiguring, nerve damage and muscle weakness that gets worse over time.
Caused by the Bacterium; Mycobacterium leprae, was discovered by G.A. Hansen in Norway in 1873. There are 2 types of leprosy: tuberculoid leprosy and lepromatous leprosy. Tuberculoid leprosy is the less severe and less contagious. Lepromatous leprosy is the more severe and is more contagious. This type affects the organs such as kidneys, testicles, eyes and nose.
Leprosy is difficult to study, Mycobacterium Leprae multiplies slowly and symptoms can take as long as 20 years to appear. Armadillos are the only animal other than humans that have been found to become naturally infected by this disease. (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001347.htm)
History of Leprosy
Leprosy was recognized in the ancient civilizations of China, Egypt and India. The first known written mention of leprosy is dated 600 BC. Throughout history, the afflicted have often been ostracized by their communities and families.
Starting in the Middle Ages, a rise in a transition from leper colonies to leper hospitals, was being treated by churches. St. James Leper hospital opened in 1118 by Queen Muad (a consort of Henry I), Hospital of St. Nicholas opened in 1084. The ideas in medieval religious society embodied that it was a noble thing to build relationships with the leper. Run by monastics, the lepers were encouraged to live monastic life styles for their health as well as quarantine. Because the suffering of a leper was viewed as Pu...
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...ead to erectile dysfunction and infertility. Leprosy in more severe cases can also damage the kidneys which can lead to kidney failure.
That after treatment, life can be mostly normal.
Support Groups www.hansensdisease.org www.leprosymission.org www.leprosy.org www.dailystrength.org/c/Leprosy/support-group
Ernst JD. Leprosy (Hansen's disease). In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 334. http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/leprosy http://plaza.ufl.edu/bjb1221/colonies.htm
Renault CA, Ernst JD. Mycobacterium leprae. In: Mandell GL, Bennett JE, Dolin R, eds. Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2009:chap 251.