Leprosy is known as a chronic infectious pathology that is caused by Hansen’s bacillus, which is scientifically called Mycobacterium leprae. This disease is characterized by various nervous and skin symptoms, the most characteristic of all being the appearance of spots, tubercles and ulcers. This disease occurs in various forms which can be differentiated both by its severity and by its symptoms. In addition, it has two extreme forms: contagious lepromatous and tuberculoid.

what is leprosy

It is a chronic disease whose origin comes from the bacillus Mycobacterium leprae, that is, a mycobacterium belonging to the same family that generates tuberculosis. This disease is also known as Hansen’s bacillus, bearing the name of the scientist who discovered them around the year 1873. Before that year, people thought that it was a congenital diagnosis, since the cases occurred within the family, without However, the scientist José Ramón Gómez managed to demonstrate that it was an infectious-contagious pathology.

This medical condition affects the skin, the mucosa of the upper respiratory tract, the eyes, and the peripheral nerves. People with leprosy have a different and decayed aspect, they tend to be marginalized, that is why it is quite common to refer to an infected subject as a leper, even if it sounds a bit harsh and hurtful.

Although many think that it is an incurable condition, in reality there is a cure, so it is necessary to make the diagnosis as soon as possible to avoid disabilities or that the leprosy on the skin becomes very aggressive.

World leprosy day is celebrated on the last Sunday of January to commemorate the fallen and survivors of this disease.

history of leprosy

Through the years, this disease has been a stigma for those who have suffered from it. In ancient times, lepers were excluded from the rest of the people, they were locked up in leprosariums; Regardless of the moral issues involved in such arrest, however, it is now known that this was an extreme and unnecessary measure despite the fact that this is a disease with very low transmissibility, especially if it is treated correctly.

Previously, the patient with this disease was classified as a leper and according to some religions, it was a sign of having been touched by the devil. The mention of leprosy in the bible was quite explicit and everyone who had the disease was called impure, they also had to change their lifestyle and clothing and make everyone know that they had the disease, they even had to confine themselves alone in their homes without getting any kind of help. For believers, people with leprosy had been cursed and if they did not cleanse themselves, they would remain unclean forever.

Characteristics of leprosy

This disease has a series of characteristics such as symptoms, types and its form of contagion, which will be explained below.

leprosy symptoms

One of the first symptoms that appear in people with leprosy are skin lesions, that is, leprosy on the skin, leaving various spots visible in fairly light shades and with defined edges, in fact in these areas there is no sensitivity and there is no sweating

Although the skin lesion is one of the symptoms, it is not necessary that it appears only on the skin, other symptoms can also appear far from the nodules or leaks that make the skin look thick, an example of this is sensitive alterations by neurological damage, which tends to occur in an advanced leprosy patient.

In these alterations, the patient has a thickening and involvement of the nerves of the hands, face and feet, in fact, the nerve damaged by the mycobacteria, whether it is the nerve of the hand, face or feet, makes the patient has an inability to feel pain, heat, cold and even feel the touch of another person. When faced with advanced leprosy, mobile disturbances and complete body paralysis may occur, as well as poor bone regeneration and poor circulation in the lower and upper limbs.

types of leprosy

Leprosy - Different types of leprosy

There are two types of this disease, the first is lepromatous and the second is tuberculoid.

lepromatous leprosy

This is a fairly serious and advanced form of the disease, since the immune system cannot fight against the bacteria, causing it to multiply and spread throughout the patient’s body, affecting the liver, skin, eyes. , spleen, nerves and nose.

This form of the disease is characterized by visible nerve inflammation, nasal bleeding and congestion, and multiple skin lesions. Patients in this phase are very difficult to cure, but if the diagnosis is made in time, reaching this extreme is avoided.

Tuberculoid leprosy

This is the benign form of the disease, however, it tends to damage the nerves of the body and, in major cases, show paralysis in the patient. In this case, the patient’s immune system can fight the disease, but it does so slowly and anarchically. When you are in this phase, between four and five skin spots appear, there is not much degree of contagion and it can be cured easily.

form of contagion

This disease can be spread through direct and prolonged physical contact with wounds, nasal or respiratory secretions, this between the first three and five years of the disease.

It can occur between a patient who does not have the ability to spread and a subject who is susceptible to contracting not only that, but other diseases.

According to various studies, 80% of the world population has defenses against the disease, in fact, not all patients with the disease can spread it.

Treatment and prognosis of leprosy

Although it is a disease that has been present in the world since ancient times, treatment was not accessible until 1941, when scientists in the US discovered that the treatment could be administered intravenously with the drug glucosulfone, that is, promin.

Then, in 1943, another drug was developed, that is, dapsone, which could be administered orally. Then in 1981, the World Health Organization gave advice to use a regimen of three drugs suitable to combat the disease, these were dapsone, rifampicin and clofazimine, that is, to follow a multi-drug treatment.

If the disease is not treated, the patient can lose the sense of sight, touch, temperature and pain, as well as deformities in the body. The contagion prognosis is 1 person per 1000 inhabitants and the improvement prognosis is 1 to 12 months per patient.

leprosy images

In this aspect you can see photos of leprosy, leprosy in Mexico and multiple images related to the disease.

Frequently Asked Questions about Leprosy

How is leprosy?

It is an infectious disease that generates skin and nerve damage.What are the causes of leprosy?

It is caused by a mycobacterium called Mycobacterium leprae.How is leprosy spread?

It is spread by direct contact with an infected person.Does leprosy have a cure?

It has a cure only if a treatment is followed or complied with during the first trimester in which the disease is detected.When did leprosy appear?

In the year 300 BC in parts of Asia and Africa.