The type of microorganism that causes Leprosy is bacteria.
The disease is caused by the bacterium known as Mycobacterium leprae.
History of the Disease
Leprosy has been known since biblical times. Mycobacterium leprae multiplies slowly and mostly affects the skin, nerves, and mucous membranes, causing it to be known for its disfiguring skin sores, nerve damage, and progressive debilitation. For so many years, leprosy was one of the world’s most feared transmittable diseases, which was because the nerve damage caused by it often led to horrid disfigurement and disability. In ancient sources, for example the Bible, leprosy was used to describe many contagious and never-ending diseases. This disease is common in a lot of countries around the world. Approximately 100 cases per year are diagnosed in the U.S. and India contains nearly 80% of all cases of leprosy in the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) recorded 800,000 new leprosy patients around the world from 1998 through 1999. In the five Indian states of Bihar, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa are where half of the world’s leprosy cases can be found. Then, in 2002, the number of new cases recorded worldwide was 763,917 and WHO listed Brazil, Madagascar, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Nepal as having 90% of the cases. Globally, one to two million people is permanently disabled due to Leprosy. Leprosy started to be called Hansen disease instead, because many experts preferred it, saying that it was less derogatory. It was named in honor of Gerhard Armauer Henrik Hansen, a Norwegian physician, who discovered Mycobacterium leprae in 1873. Leprosy means scaly, coming from the French word “lepre” from the Greek “lepros.” Leprosy is only subject to humans and the nine-banded armadillo. The increasing number of cases worldwide has led to international concern about this disease.
How the Disease is Spread
Leprosy is an infectious disease, which is not extremely contagious. The way the disease is spread is not fully determined, although most researchers believe that the harmful bacteria are usually spread from person to person in respiratory droplets. Coming in close contact with patients with untreated, active, predominantly multibacillary disease, and people living in countries with highly endemic disease will cause one to obtain it.
Signs & Symptoms
There are many signs and symptoms of leprosy, such as, skin lesions that are lighter than your normal skin color and which have decreased sensation to touch, heat, or pain and which do not heal after several weeks to months. Also, muscle weakness and numbness, which is a lack of feeling in the hands, arms, feet, and legs, are symptoms of leprosy. Complications can lead to disfigurement, muscle weakness, permanent nerve damage in the arms and legs, and sensory loss. People with long-term leprosy may lose the use of their hands and feet due to repeated injury because they lack feeling in that area.
Testing and Screening
There are three main testing and screening options. The first one is called the Lepromin skin test, and can be used to tell the two different forms of leprosy apart,