What is Leprosy?

What is Leprosy?

Leprosy is a type of mycobacterial infection that is prevalent mostly in India, Nigeria, Brazil, Myanmar and Indonesia. At present, more than 1. 15 million people in the world are affected by this chronic infection. Leprosy infection does not spare anyone and affects everyone from children to adult of both the sexes.

How it is Caused?

Prolonged and close contact with the people infected by the leprosy infection is the major cause of spread of leprosy. The transmission of this disease occurs mostly when a person sneezes, through the nasal membrane.

Clinically saying the infection of leprosy transmits to an infected person through nasal secretions from an infected patient of leprosy whose minor skin abrasions or nasal mucosa contaminates the uninfected person. However, the transmission does not affect people with high level natural immunity.

In such cases more often, the infection is suppressed. Observations reveal that leprosy cases do not develop in areas, which are non-endemic to this infection.


Symptoms of Leprosy

Patches of skin looking paler as compared to normal skin color are the first indications of the onset of leprosy. Other symptoms include skin nodules. However, in some patients, the symptoms are not easily visible and hence the diagnosis is difficult.

One of the clinical features of this infection is presence of various skin lesions that damage the peripheral nerve trunk causing anesthetic or paralyzing effect on the particular areas of the body. This can lead to deformities, which is commonly seen in highly severe leprosy cases.

Treatments for Leprosy

No vaccine or other preventive measures are available for leprosy. However, leprosy can be cured with MDT OR Multi-Drug Therapy. From two weeks of starting the course of MDT, the risk of disease transmission is eliminated.

The patient needs to take these drugs for around six to 12 months regularly depending upon the severity of the spread of the infection. The drugs are available free at all the government hospitals.

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