What is Leprosy?
Leprosy also called as Hansen’s disease is a chronic infectious disease that affects the skin and nervous system, particularly the peripheral and cutaneous nervous system. The affected area is usually the face, eyes, hands and feet. If untreated, deformities and paralysis of the affected areas may occur. Today, leprosy can be treated effectively and cured.
What causes Leprosy?
Leprosy is caused by a slow growing bacteria Mycobacterium leprae, similar to that which causes tuberculosis.
Is leprosy contagious?
In the past many people thought leprosy is highly contagious disease and the people with leprosy were isolated. But now, leprosy is not thought to be highly contagious and only untreated disease might be contagious. Once the treatment starts, he/she becomes noninfectious. Now, more then 95% of the people has natural immunity to leprosy. In infected and untreated person, leprosy may be spread to other person by droplets from mouth and nose.
Symptoms of Leprosy
Leprosy grows slowly over 6 months to 40 years and can result in cutaneous lesions, neuropathies, and eyes deformity. Cutaneous lesion may be hypopigmented macules with a raised border. Regarding neuropaties, loss of sensation to the peripheral and cutaneous nerves, especially those of hands, feet and face may occur. Involvement of eye result in dry eyes, reduce blinking and reduced corneal reflex and blindness.
Treatment of leprosy
Leprosy can be treated and is completely curable, but the effectiveness of the treatment depends on early diagnosis before any deformity has occurred. Usually a 6-12 months course of multidrug therapy is given and the treatment is highly effective if diagnosed early. There is no known drug resistance and the relapse rate is very low.