By Kaitlynn Hamers

What is Leprosy?

Leprosy, also known as Hansens Disease, is caused by a rod shaped bacteria called Mycobacteria Leprae. There are two types of leprosy, Tuberculoid and Lepromatous. Leprosy is a very misunderstood disease. It can take many years before you show symptoms. It can cause you to have Gangrene, which you loose feeling in your hands and feet, which is not curable.


The symptoms of Leprosy may not show up for 2 to 10 years. Leprosy effects the nerves, not the brain or spinal cord, in your body. You get skin blotches or thick stiff skin. You can also get large bumps that can invade your eyes and cause blindness. They can also invade your nose and cause nose bleeds or stuffy nose. You can become numb in your hands and feet which you can later lose feeling. This can be dangerous because if you were to injure yourself you wouldn't feel it. For example you could step on a nail and lead to more injuries or diseases. You may also get soles on your feet or muscle weakness.


This disease is transmitted through a person with Leprosy, who hasn't been treated, were to cough or sneeze onto someone. It is spread like the common cold, the droplets they cough or sneeze carry the disease. The nasal fluids carry leprosy, of a person with Leprosy.

In the 1960s scientist found that mice carry Leprosy in their foot pads. In 1967 they found that armadillos are carriers of Leprosy, but it is rare to catch it from an armadillo.


So how do we treat this disease. Today we use Multi Drug Therapy (MDT) , but a long time ago it wasn't so easy.Until the 1940s there was no treatment for Leprosy. They used to inject people with the oil from the chaulmoogra nut. Only a small amount of people saw result with this. The first medicine was Sulfa, but there was many side effects. They use many drugs like Dapsone, Rifampin, Clofazamine, Fluoroquinolones, and Macrolides. Some tests they do to see what type or if you have Leprosy are skin leion biopsies and skin scraping.
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Multi Drug Therapy


The first written account, of what they believe to be Leprosy, was in 1550 b.c. in an Egyptian Papyrus. Nobody really knows where Leprosy started. Scientist believe it started in India or China and moved from the west to the east. Leprosy was a very misunderstood disease. People thought that if you got Leprosy you were evil or it was a punishment or curse from God. They called them lepers. They would shun people or make them walk on the other side of the road. People with Leprosy wore special clothes with bells to warn the people. They even had to stay at other hospitals. Dr. Gerhard Henrik Armauer Hansen was the fist to identify the disease. In 1921 the US Public Health Service established The Gillis W Long Hansens Disease Center, also known as Carville, in Lousiana.

The picture is of Dr. Gerhard Henrik Armauer Hansen.


Leprosy is in underdeveloped countries. A long time ago it was a problem showing up in many countries. Today Leprosy is in a minimal of countries like Angola, Brazil, Central African Republic, India, Madagascar, Kiribati, and Nepal. Living in the United States we are very lucky because Leprosy is a very minimal problem becoming a problem of the past.

The picture to the Left is the cases of Leprosy in 2012.

Eliminating Leprosy

Leprosy numbers are very low, but could this disease be eliminated. The World Health Organization is working towards that. In 1985 5.2 million people had Leprosy. And in 2012 only 189,018 people had Leprosy. 119 of the 122 countries that had Leprosy eliminated it, but what is considered elimination. The World Health Organization or WHO has a campaign called the Final Push. The gal is to have elimination or 1 out of every 10,000. To reach this we have to have developing community awareness programs. people need access to information, how to diagnose Leprosy, and treatment. The World Health Organization is teaching people how to diagnose Leprosy. A test to see if it is Leprosy, take a pen and gently push on a part of skin that is infected. If they can tell you where it is, its not Leprosy. After the achieve elimination they are going to help the others infected. The Democratic Republic of the Congo and Mozambique reached national elimination. The biggest challenge is to deliver the free MDTs to patients. To prevent leprosy stay away from the infected. If you know or have been by someone with Leprosy you should get monthly check ups and for about five years.

One Mans Impact

A man named Stainley Stein was diagnosed with Leprosy in 1931. He was sent to Carville hospital in Louisiana. He started a newspaper called The Star Newspaper. He changed the outlook of the patients. He said how Leprosy wasn't their fault. It was a disease anybody could get. He said this is the century of light. Many patients started to get well.

Leprosy Conclusion

Leprosy is a disease that hopefully will come to an end. Now that you know about Leprosy you can donate. You can also help to protect yourself if Leprosy grows again. Don't forget to remember the symptoms of Leprosy because if you get it, it takes many years to get it. Thank you for reading my s'more on Leprosy. I hope you learned something from this!


Works Cited

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Hand with fingers falling off. Digital image. Disease Pictures. Web. 17 Dec. 2014.

"Hansens Disease." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 29 Apr. 2013. Web. 01 Dec. 2014.

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