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Leprosy, also known as Hansen's disease, is a chronic infectious disease caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium leprae. It primarily affects the skin, peripheral nerves, mucosal surfaces of the upper respiratory tract, and the eyes. Leprosy is characterized by a long incubation period and a wide spectrum of clinical manifestations, ranging from mild to severe. Here's an overview of leprosy, its causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment:


1. Bacterium:

  • Leprosy is caused by the slow-growing bacterium Mycobacterium leprae.

2. Transmission:

  • The exact mode of transmission is not fully understood, but it is believed to occur through respiratory droplets.

3. Prolonged Incubation:

  • The incubation period can range from several months to many years, making it challenging to determine the source of infection.


1. Skin Lesions:

  • Leprosy often presents with skin lesions, including discolored patches with decreased sensation.

2. Nerve Damage:

  • Peripheral nerves are affected, leading to sensory loss, muscle weakness, and deformities.

3. Thickened Nerves:

  • Nerves may become enlarged and palpable.

4. Eye Involvement:

  • Leprosy can affect the eyes, leading to blindness if left untreated.

5. Nasal Involvement:

  • In some cases, the mucosa of the upper respiratory tract is affected, causing nasal congestion and nosebleeds.

6. Loss of Eyebrows and Lashes:

  • Leprosy can cause the loss of eyebrows and eyelashes.


1. Clinical Evaluation:

  • Diagnosis is primarily based on clinical signs and symptoms.

2. Skin Biopsy:

  • A skin biopsy may be performed to detect the presence of Mycobacterium leprae.

3. Nerve Biopsy:

  • Biopsy of an affected nerve may also be conducted.


1. Multi-Drug Therapy (MDT):

  • Leprosy is treatable with multidrug therapy, which typically includes a combination of antibiotics such as dapsone, rifampicin, and clofazimine.

2. Long-Term Treatment:

  • Treatment may need to be continued for several months to years, depending on the severity and type of leprosy.

3. Prevention of Complications:

  • Early diagnosis and treatment help prevent complications such as nerve damage and deformities.

4. Rehabilitation:

  • Rehabilitation, including physical therapy and surgical interventions, may be necessary to address deformities and disabilities.


1. Early Detection and Treatment:

  • Early detection and prompt treatment of leprosy cases help prevent the progression of the disease and reduce transmission.

2. Contact Surveillance:

  • Monitoring and treating individuals who have been in close contact with leprosy patients to prevent further spread.

3. Immunization:

  • Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccination may offer some protection against leprosy.

Social Stigma:

1. Community Education:

  • Education and awareness campaigns are essential to dispel myths and reduce the social stigma associated with leprosy.

2. Social Integration:

  • Promoting the social integration of individuals affected by leprosy to combat discrimination.


Leprosy is a treatable condition, and early intervention is crucial to prevent complications. Global efforts focus on early detection, treatment, and social inclusion to eliminate the stigma associated with leprosy and reduce its impact on affected individuals and communities.