Leprosy is a chronic disease caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium lepromatosis. It is also known as Hansen's disease named after G.A. Hansen, who discovered the bacillus. This disease has affected mankind from ancient times since at least 600 BC and was known to all ancient civilizations of China, Egypt and India.
The World Health Organization estimated in 1995 that 2 to 3 million people were permanently disabled due to this disease.
It is the disease of the peripheral nerves. These are the nerves outside the brain and the spinal chord. It also affects the skin, testes, eyes the mucous membrane of the nose. In its mild form, a few skin areas are affected but when it is severe many skin areas get affected and many organs get damaged. Antibiotics can stop further progress of leprosy but damage already done cannot be reversed.
250,000 new cases were reported in the year 2007, and 90 percent of these cases are from 8 countries mostly from South Asia, Africa and South America. The United States reported 137 fresh cases in 2006. All cases of leprosy cases in the United States involves people migrated from developing countries.
Leprosy is a slow acting disease. It takes several years before a person infected with the bacteria starts showing symptoms. The reason for that is that the bacteria multiply very slowly and on an average it takes 5 to 7 years for the symptoms to develop.
It is not a life threatening disease. It can be effectively treated with antibiotics. It rarely causes death.
More Articles :