Leprosy(Mycobacterium leprae)

This article aims to explain to you about Leprosy, It will help you identify its signs o, understand the causes and how to get rid of this disease.

What is Leprosy?

This is a chronic, progressive bacterial infection caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium leprae. It primarily affects the nerves of the extremities, the skin, the lining of the nose, and the upper respiratory tract. It is also known as Hansen’s disease.
This produces skin ulcers, nerve damage, and muscle weakness. If it isn’t treated, it can cause severe disfigurement and significant disability.
This is one of the oldest diseases in recorded history. The first known written reference to this disease is from around 600 B.C.
It’s common in many countries, especially those with tropical or subtropical climates. It’s not very common in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that only 150 to 250 new cases are diagnosed in the United States each year.

Some Common Information :

Causative Pathogen : A bacterium (Mycobacterium leprae)

Mode of transmission : Prolonged contact with the infected person. Nasal secretions are the most likely infectious material for family contacts.

Incubation period : 1-5 years

(i) Affects skin.
(ii) Formation of nodules and ulcer.
(iii) Scabs and deformities of fingers and toes.
(iv) Infected areas lose sensation.

Prevention and Cure :

(i) The children should be kept away from parents suffering from this disease.
(ii) Some medicine may arrest the disease and prevent from spreading.


Caused by a slow-growing type of bacteria called Mycobacterium leprae (M. leprae). This is also known as Hansen’s disease, after the scientist who discovered M. Leprae in 1873.

It isn’t clear exactly how this is transmitted. When a person with this coughs or sneezes, they may spread droplets containing the M. leprae bacteria that another person breathes in. Close physical contact with an infected person is necessary to transmit . It isn’t spread by casual contact with an infected person, like shaking hands, hugging, or sitting next to them on a bus or at a table during a meal.
Pregnant mothers with this condition can’t pass it to their unborn babies. It’s not transmitted by sexual contact either.

Different forms :

Leprosy is defined by the number and type of skin sores you have. Specific symptoms and treatment depend on the type of leprosy. The types of leprosy are:

  1. Tuberculoid. A mild, less severe form of leprosy. People with this type have only one or a few patches of flat, pale-colored skin (paucibacillary leprosy). The affected area of skin may feel numb because of nerve damage underneath. Tuberculoid leprosy is less contagious than other forms.
  2. Lepromatous. A more severe form of the disease. It brings widespread skin bumps and rashes (multibacillary leprosy), numbness, and muscle weakness. The nose, kidneys, and male reproductive organs may also be affected. It is more contagious than tuberculoid leprosy.
  3. Borderline. People with this type of leprosy have symptoms of both the tuberculoid and lepromatous forms.


Your doctor will conduct a physical exam to look for telltale signs and symptoms of the disease. They’ll also perform a biopsy in which they remove a small piece of skin or nerve and send it to a laboratory for testing.
Your doctor may also perform a lepromin skin test to determine the form of leprosy. They’ll inject a small amount of leprosy-causing bacterium, which has been inactivated, into the skin, typically on the upper forearm.
People who have tuberculoid or borderline tuberculoid leprosy will experience a positive result at the injection site.



Leprosy can be cured. In the last 2 decades, 16 million people with leprosy have been cured. The World Health Organization provides free treatment for all people with leprosy.
Treatment depends on the type of leprosy that you have. Antibiotics are used to treat the infection. Doctors recommend long-term treatment, usually for 6 months to a year. If you have severe leprosy, you may need to take antibiotics longer. Antibiotics can’t treat the nerve damage that comes with leprosy.
Multidrug therapy (MDT) is a common treatment for leprosy that combines antibiotics. That means you’ll take two or more medications, often antibiotics:

  1. Paucibacillary leprosy: You’ll take two antibiotics, such as dapsone each day and rifampicin once a month.
  2. Multibacillary leprosy: You’ll take a daily dose of the antibiotic clofazimine in addition to the daily dapsone and monthly rifampicin. You’ll take multidrug therapy for 1-2 years, and then you’ll be cured.

Additionally, several antibiotics treat leprosy by killing the bacteria that causes it. These antibiotics include:

  1. Dapsone (Aczone)
  2. Rifampin (Rifadin)
  3. Clofazimine (Lamprene)
  4. Minocycline (Minocin)
  5. Ofloxacin (Ocuflux)

What are the potential complications ?

Without treatment, leprosy can permanently damage your skin, nerves, arms, legs, feet, and eyes.
Complications also includes:

  1. Blindness or glaucoma
  2. Iritis
  3. Hair loss
  4. Infertility
  5. Disfiguration of the face (including permanent swelling, bumps, and lumps)
  6. Erectile dysfunction and infertility in men
  7. Kidney failure
  8. Muscle weakness that leads to claw-like hands or a not being able to flex your feet
  9. Permanent damage to the inside of your nose, which can lead to nosebleeds and a chronic stuffy nose
  10. Permanent damage to the nerves outside your brain and spinal cord, including those in the arms, legs, and feet

Nerve damage can lead to a dangerous loss of feeling. If you have leprosy-related nerve damage, you may not feel pain when you get cuts, burns, or other injuries on your hands, legs, or feet.


The best way to prevent is to avoid long-term, close contact with an untreated person who has the infection.


There is no vaccine generally available to specifically prevent this disease. However, the vaccine against tuberculosis (TB), called the BCG vaccine , may provide some protection .

Thankyou For Reading
Be Strong Be Safe
God Bless You All
Author: Hi there, my name is Subin Joshua, and I am a Medical student. I grew up in a family of teachers and know that being a social worker is my calling. My passion for helping others has been evident in my involvement in helping the poor and needy for the last three years. Through those experiences, I have learned to interact with a diverse group of people, which has increased my ability to relate to others.

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