What is Leprosy?

What is Leprosy?

Know all about leprosy and its cure
Leprosy is a disease that’s caused by bacillus bacteria, which is related to the same bacillus that causes tuberculosis. Leprosy has been known as a terrible disease since ancient times. In the Bible, the disease has been cited many times in both the Old and New Testaments.
Leprosy is a contagious infectious disease and is noticeable in its later phases as the flesh begins to rot. People with leprosy in Biblical times were feared and forced in special isolated colonies to prevent whole villages and cities from being infected with the disease.
The leprosy causing bacteria, bacillus mycobacterium leprae, infects the skin and strikes both the skin and peripheral nerves. The disease itself does not cause the flesh to rot, however, as the disease progresses and an infected person starts having the disfiguring skin sores and damage to the peripheral nerves, the victim can shed feeling in hands and feet.
When this happens, a person can injure that limb, not feel any pain, so doesn’t notice the injury. With the injury not being noticed, it becomes infected and gangrene sets in-hence the flesh begins to rot.
Symptoms of leprosy
1. A red spot that can be either lighter or darker than the victim’s skin is the first and oldest sign of leprosy. The leprosy causing germs can incubate in the body for quite some time before this symptom appears. The typical incubation period can range from three to five decades. Lesions will appear on several different part of the body that will shed sensation to touch, heat or pain. These lesions will also be lighter in colour than the normal color of the skin.
3. Lesions that don’t heal for weeks or even months.
4. Muscle weakness can also be a symptom of leprosy.
The social effects of leprosy were harsher in the past than they are now. In the Middle Ages and earlier, by way of instance, leprosy was a feared disease and people who were infected with leprosy were forcibly removed from society and placed in particular leper colonies in which they had been left to die.
In the days of Christ, lepers were also isolated from society and if lepers were traveling, they had to wear a bell to warn others to stay away.
From the Middle Ages, there was more understanding of diseases in general and some treatments for leprosy were tried, but generally speaking, society was still very afraid of the disease.
Many hospitals and doctors who relied on charity and benefits from their communities refused to treat lepers and lepers were frequently forced from their communities. The disease divided families, couples, and destroyed marriages. In actuality, in Medieval Western Europe, the Roman Catholic Church allowed to get a canonical divorce for those whose spouse was infected with leprosy.
One Medieval treatment for leprosy was theriac, which was a mixture of viper’s flesh and other components and was widely thought to cure leprosy. Mercury was also believed to be used to cure not only leprosy, but other diseases also.
The treatments today, however, are much more effective. Like all bacterial infections, leprosy can be effectively treated with antibiotics. Most antibiotics, however, aren’t strong enough to treat the bacillus mycobacterium leprae, because this bacterium, like its cousin which causes tuberculosis, can be resistant to many antibiotics.
For this reason, stronger antimicrobial medications are often used to treat leprosy. A number of the antimicrobial treatments used to treat leprosy include:
1. Sulfones in the form of an oral dapsone is usually the first treatment used to treat the disease. Some of these side-affects include hepatitis, exfoliated dermatitis and hypersensitivity reactions. Should this happen, sulfone treatment should stop immediately.
2. Rifampin with a blend of clofazimine and ethionamide can be an alternative treatment for leprosy if sulfone treatment does not work.
3. Surgical correction or amputation might be required to treat some of the more severe symptoms of leprosy such as claw hand or wrist or foot drop. In these cases, the effected limbs could be necrotic and may already have gangrene set in and would need to be removed.
Leprosy is a serious disease and your body could respond to dead bacteria during the course of the above mentioned treatments.
How is leprosy transmitted?
Leprosy is an infectious disease that’s contagious, but it is not as highly contagious as some other airborne infections like the common cold or the flu. There are several ways leprosy is transmitted, which are listed below. Household contact is the most common transmission of the disease. If someone in your household has leprosy, you could possible get it out of that person by sharing eating utensils or drinking glasses, in addition to sexual contact and kissing.
2. Inhaling the germs by sitting by somebody who is infected with leprosy is another way the disease can be transmitted.
3. Insect bites from insects who carry the bacillus mycobacterium leprae is another possible way which you can contract leprosy.
4. Nasal mucous membranes can also carry the bacteria that cause leprosy. In actuality, the bacillus mycobacterium leprae can live in nasal fluids up to 36 hours.
Theoretically, leprosy usually infects a person once, but elderly people with weaker immune systems can be reinfected with leprosy.
Currently, the Infectious Disease Research Center together with the American Leprosy Missions has an aggressive campaign to curtail or even eradicate leprosy. Currently, the American Leprosy Missions has their”Deliver the Cure” program, which is a charitable program to assist children that are suffering from leprosy.
Leprosy is rare in the United States, however, if you intend to go to Africa, Latin America, or even any parts of Asia, you could encounter areas where leprosy is widespread and there you might want to take precautions. When traveling to these areas, you should consult the US State Department or other organizations to find out what diseases can pose a problem and what vaccines you might want to travel to these countries.


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