Definition of Leprosy | Symptoms of Leprosy | Diagnosis of Leprosy

What is Leprosy?

Leprosy (also known as Hansen’s disease) is an infectious; slow-growing and long-term bacterial disease that causes severe, disfiguring, painless skin sore and damage in the arms, legs, eyes, and skin areas around the body.

Symptoms of leprosy
Symptoms of leprosy

Causative Agent of Leprosy:

It is a chronic infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium leprae or Mycobacterium lepromatosis. It is an acid-fast and rod -shape bacillus.

Mode of Transmission:

It is transmitted through coughing, sneezing, and long-term contact with a person who has the disease but has not been treated. Most people will never be affected even if they are exposed to bacteria. Approximately 95% of the world population has natural immunity against it.

It is usually not transmitted with sexual contact or not highly contagious. But it may also be transmitted to humans by Armadillos (carrier).

Incubation Period of Leprosy:

M. leprae usually multiplies slowly and the incubation period about 3 to 5 years after coming into contact with the causative bacteria. In some cases, symptoms do not develop until 20 years. It is difficult to understand when and where a person got infected with this disease for its long incubation period.

Symptoms of Leprosy:

There are some key symptoms which are pointed out below:

  • Discolored patches of skin,
  • Nodules on the skin,
  • Thick, stiff, or dry skin,
  • Painless ulcers on the soles of the feet,
  • Loss of eyebrow or eyelashes,
  • Numbness or loss of sensation of the affected areas,
  • Loss of sweat and oil gland function that lead cracked and dry hands and feet skin,
  • Enlarged of elbow, knee, and neck nerves,
  • Eye problems( dryness and reduced blinking),
  • Stuffy nose,
  • Bleeding from nose,
  • Joints pain,
  • Loss of deep pressure sensation,
  • Blisters or rashes over the skin,

Late Symptoms of Leprosy:

Late symptoms are-

  • Large ulcerations,
  • Hair loss,
  • Loss of digits or blindness,
  • Skin nodules,
  • Facial disfigurement such as loss of nose,
  • Permanent nerve damage of the arm and leg.

Diagnosis of Leprosy:

Some important diagnoses are in the following:

  1. Physical examination,
  2. Illness history,
  3. Travel and family history,
  4. Possible exposure to someone with this disease,
  5. Skin biopsy,
  6. Skin smears.

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