- Disease, Hansen
- Leprosy, a chronic granulomatous infection caused by a bacillus which affects various parts of the body, including particularly the skin and nerves. Granulomas are inflammatory nodules that are usually small, granular, firm, and persistent. The bacillus responsible for leprosy is called Mycobacterium leprae. Mycobacterium leprae is lives within cells where it is able to withstand the onslaught of enzymes and other forces by virtue of possessing a peculiarly resistant waxy coat. Lowered cellular immunity is also an important factor. For thousands of years, leprosy was one of the world's most feared communicable diseases, because the skin and nerve damage often led to terrible disfigurement and disability. The classic clinical form of leprosy is called anesthetic leprosy. It chiefly affects nerves. The condition begins with hyperesthesia (excess sensation) succeeded by anesthesia (lack of feeling) and paralysis, ulceration, and various other problems, ending horribly in gangrene and self-mutilation. India accounts for almost nearly 80% of all cases of leprosy in the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) recorded 800,000 new leprosy patients around the world during the year 1998-99. Half of the world's leprosy cases are now found in the five Indian states of Bihar, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa. Today leprosy can be cured, particularly if treatment is begun early. The treatment of choice is a multidrug therapy (MDT) using diaphenylsulfone (brand name: Dapsone), rifampicin (brand name: Rifadin), and clofazimine (brand name: Lamprene). Surgery can reconstruct damaged faces and limbs. Leprosy is also known as Hansen's disease and the germ responsible for it is Hansen's bacillus, named in honor of the Norwegian physician, Gerhard A. Hansen (1841-1912). The word "leprosy" comes from the Greek "lepros" meaning scaly. Only people and the nine-banded armadillo are susceptible to leprosy.
Medical dictionary. 2011.