What is leprosy ?

A person is infected by leprosy due to the bacteria called Mycobacterium leprae. This bacterium damages the nervous system and the skin. It infects and is development is very slow. It could begin around 6 months and go on till forty years. Leprosy affects the earlobes, feet, nose, hands, eyes and testicles causing deformities and lesion. This leads to disfigurement and thereby in early times they were kept treated as outsiders by many people. It is transmitted from man to man but it can be transferred also through nine banded armadillos, mangabey monkeys and chimpanzee, but this happens rarely.

Symptoms of Leprosy

Some of the symptoms of leprosy are:

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  • Hot or cold sensation is not felt or realized by the person.
  • With the development of leprosy the person loses the sense of touch or pain.
  • Feeling of numbness
  • Pale skin
  • Damage to eyes
  • Ulcers which has no pain
  • Face is disfigured

Gradually as the years pass by leprosy develops and affects the feet, knees, face and eyes.

Causes of Leprosy

The main cause of leprosy is bacteria called Mycobacterium leprae. It develops in animal and human cells. Leprosy is not genetic but recent researches show that it could be hereditary.

Types of leprosy

There are various types of leprosy. In the medical field the Ridley Jopling system has classified into 6 types whereas the WHO system has classified leprosy into two types. The latter system is more used. As per the WHO system in the year 2009 the types of leprosy were classified on the basis of lesion of skin. They are namely:

  • Multibacillary Leprosy: When we can see skin lesions with bacilli in a skin cover, it is multibacillary leprosy.
  • Paucibacillary Leprosy: When we can see skin lesions with no bacilli in a skin cover, then it is paucibacillary leprosy.

The six types of Ridley Jopling system are as follows:

  • Borderline tuberculoid leprosy: When skin lesions appear as in tuberculoid leprosy but small and abundant along with a lesser amount of nerve enlargement, then it is borderline tuberculoid leprosy. If this continues then it may go back to tuberculoid leprosy or move on to other types of leprosy.
  • Lepromatous leprosy: When skin lesions are dispersed equally,                             Mycobacterium leprae bacteria increase which results in loss of hair e.g. people with such leprosy usually do not have any eyelashes or eyebrows. When the leprosy develops it leads to deadening of areas and limbs become weak and face is disfigured.
  • Indeterminate leprosy: This leprosy can be healed or may continue and change to other types of leprosy. There are only some hypo pigmented flat lesions.
  • Borderline Lepromatous Leprosy: In this type of leprosy the person has a lot of macules, plaques, bumps and may lead to deadening of areas. If the leprosy persists then it may develop into lepromatous type of leprosy.
  • Tuberculoid Leprosy: The person suffering from this type of leprosy has some flat lesions and its size may vary, also that area may lose sensation. If it continues it may develop into other types of leprosy.
  • Mid borderline leprosy: A person with this type of leprosy has a lot of red marks that are dispersed and may have less pain sensation with puffed up lymph nodes. This type may also develop into other types of leprosy.

Is Leprosy contagious?

There are many studies which show that leprosy is not contagious. In fact, it would be very complicated for anyone to get it by touching someone who has this disease. One must have close contact with the infected person for a long time to develop contagious leprosy.  Secondly, in general cases, our body has the capability as a part of defense mechanism to fight the disease.  A person may contract leprosy in a contagious manner if the person is at an advanced stage of the disease. There are chances of a person contracting it through respiratory droplets in the form of sneezing and coughing. Of almost half of the cases studied, there is no confirmed case of contagious leprosy or spread through being in contact with a leper.

Treatment of Leprosy

Treatment of leprosy is mostly done through antibiotics. Supervision is done by a medical expert in regards to the type of antibiotics to be consumed, the quantity and how long the treatment is to be carried on. Treatment for multibacillary and paucibacillary leprosy is done through antibiotics like rifampicin, dapsone and clofazimine. The treatment may carry on for 6 months or a year or more. In case of paucibacillary leprosy it can be treated with antibiotics with less or no effect on the person suffering from this type of leprosy. But in case of multibacillary leprosy it can be prevented from developing and the bacteria can be destroyed with the help of antibiotics. Even then the damages prior to treatment cannot be reversed. Surgery is also an option for leprosy. When antibiotics treatment is done then surgery is opted but only in serious cases. People who want to improve their limb or nervous system functions can go for surgeries.

Prevention of Leprosy

To prevent leprosy one has to keep no contact with those who are suffering and have not treated leprosy. One has to avoid coming in contact with drops from nose or emissions of such person. Also person who is being treated for leprosy should avoid spreading of leprosy. Those who stay with leprosy infected without any treatment have 8 times more chances of developing leprosy. Leprosy is not very much infectious as research show that over ninety five percent who have been exposed to leprosy were not infected with such disease. It is said that mostly people living in tropical and subtropical areas like India, Brazil, and Indonesia etc. have maximum reports of leprosy.

Leprosy pictures

Here are the pictures of people suffering from leprosy


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