Pathogens: Mycobacterium leprae, Mycobacterium lepromatosis
Types of Infections
Intermediate Leprosy: A small amount of flat sores that can heal without any outside assistance, but can also progress to a worse state of infection.
Tuberculoid Leprosy: Sores both small and large are present and nerves are somewhat effected. Large sores tend to be numb. Self-healing is possible, but there is also a chance that the condition will either not go away and just stay at the same state, or worsen.
Borderline Tuberculoid Leprosy: Sores smaller and in greater numbers than those in tuberculoid leprosy, and a lesser effect on the nervous system. Condition can remain the same, lessen to tuberculoid, or worsen.
Mid-Borderline Leprosy: Red-colored swollen areas, somewhat numb, gland swelling. Condition can become less severe, stay the same, or worsen.
Borderline Lepromatous Leprosy: Lots of varying sores with occasional numbness. Same pattern of change in condition with chance of regression, persistence, or progression.
Lepromatous Leprosy: Lots of sores with pathogens present. Nerves are effected, hair may fall out, fatigue is common, and so is dementation of the body. In the case of lepromatous leprosy, there is no chance of regression of the condition.
World Health Organization Classification
Paucibacillary Leprosy: 5 or less sores are present and when a sample of skin is taken, the pathogen is not detected.
Multibacillary Leprosy: More than 5 sores are present or the pathogen is detected in a skin sample. The infection is also classified as multibacillary when both of the aforementioned conditions are true.
More recently, there have been cases in Florida of people contracting leprosy after coming into contact with armadillos. Both humans and armadillos can carry and transmit the same strain of Mycobacterium leprae.
Children are more likely to acquire leprosy than adults, and men are more likely to acquire leprosy than women. Dense populations and tight living conditions, along with malnutrition and bad sanitary conditions can increase the chance of leprosy infections.
- Sores and growths on skin
- Rough skin
- Extreme pain
- Loss of feeling
- Fatigue and potential paralysis, most common in opposable appendages
- Potential blindness
- Swelling of nerves
- Nose clogged with mucus
- Holes in the bottom of feet
Armed and Dangerous?
On a world scale leprosy is most common in tropical and subtropical areas. The majority of people in the U.S. faces no real threat of leprosy, but people in places like Florida, Louisiana, and Texas may be at risk due to the potential for contraction of leprosy from armadillos.
In places like India and other third-world countries in tropical and subtropical areas, people are at a higher risk of contracting leprosy due to the dense populations of such places and the general lack of sufficient healthcare.
Defense, Prevention, Treatment, and Cure
There are no vaccines for leprosy, but there are antibiotics that are used to kill the pathogen that causes it, such as dapsone, rifampin, and minocycline. More often than not, multiple antibiotics are prescribed to fight the pathogen. The treatment process can take up to 6 months, but if a patient follows doctors orders, he or she will likely be cured of the disease after treatment is done. Though it can be treated, 95% of adults are naturally immune to the disease.
Honors Biology II
17 March 2016