Leprosy is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium leprae. Children are more likely than adults to get the disease. Leprosy has two common forms: tuberculoid and lepromatous. Both forms produce sores on the skin, but the lepromatous form is most severe. It causes large lumps and bumps (nodules).
The exact way of transmission is unknown, but the most widely held belief is that the disease is transmitted by contact between cases of leprosy and healthy persons. Another belief is that it is typically transmitted in airborne moisture droplets produced by coughing, breathing, and sneezing. Other people believe that armadillos transmitted it to man. Males are affected more than females with a ratio of 2:1.
It is not very contagious and it has a long incubation period which makes it hard to know where or when someone caught the disease.
Leprosy is often referred to as "the living death", since it can ravage the body and leave its victims deformed. Leprosy can be cured by the use of antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs, but the antibiotics will not cure the nerve damage.
- Skin lesions that are lighter than your normal skin color
- Lesions have decreased sensation to touch, heat, or pain
- Lesions do not heal after several weeks to months
- Muscle weakness
- Numbness or lack of feeling in the hands, arms, feet, and leg
Skin lesion biopsy
Skin scraping examination
Anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin
Leprosy is not an immediate cause of death, but the prolonged affects of leprosy can lead to death. People with the disease have a 4x higher chance of death than the general population.