• Leprosy is a chronic slightly infectious disease caused by a bacillus germ which causes tuberculosis.
  • Another name for leprosy is Hansen’s disease, name for Norwegian doctor Armauer Hansen who was the first to view the bacillus under a microscope in 1873.
  • Leprosy can be cured with multi-drug therapy (MDT). MDT drugs are rifampicin, clofazimine, and dapsone. Treatment takes from six months to two years, depending on the severity of the case. No resistance to multidrug therapy has been recorded.
  • The first signs of leprosy are often pale patches which appear on the skin and/or loss of sensation of the sensation on the hands and feet.
  • Experts believe that M. leprae is transmitted primarily when people cough or sneeze, this discharging bacilli on droplets or dust particles that other individuals then inhale.
  • Leprosy doesn’t affect the deeper organs and tissues of the body to any extent. Essentially it is a disease of the skin and superficial nerves. Skin lesions are easy to observe by health workers and are associated with definite sensory loss.
  • Most people — approximately 95% of us — have a natural immunity to leprosy.
  • The leprosy germ attacks the nerves, especially those going to the legs, arms and face.
  • The nerve damage causes loss of sensation and also weakness and paralysis of muscle.
  • Leprosy can be a crippling disease if it is not treated early. By some estimates, a quarter to a third of all patients with leprosy will become disabled. Mortality is not associated with the disease since the disease is rarely an immediate cause of death.
  • Leprosy is one of the world’s leading causes of preventable blindness.
  • Leprosy remains a public health problem in more than a dozen countries situated mainly in the inter-tropical belt of the world.
  • The number of people diagnosed each year has remained fairly constant despite increased case finding and treatment.
  • There are approximately 200,000 – 300,000 new cases annually world-wide.
  • About 14% of all new cases are children under 15 years old; 15% of all new cases already suffer visible disabilities.
  • Approximately 2-3 million people world-wide need ongoing care for leprosy related disabilities.
  • India has the highest prevalence of leprosy in the world, followed by Brazil, Nigeria, Myanmar and Indonesia.
  • Approximately 150 people are diagnosed with leprosy in the United States each year.