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Satyendar Jain
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National Leprosy Eradication Programme – Delhi

 

WHAT IS LEPROSY?

Leprosy/Hansen’s disease is an infectious disease that causes severe, disfiguring skin sores and nerve damage in the arms, legs, and skin areas around the body. The incubation period is 3 to 5 years / till 20 years. Leprosy is caused by mycobacterium lapre it is not so contagious but if one come into close and repeated contact with nose and mouth droplets from someone with untreated leprosy.

Children are more likely to get leprosy than adults. It primarily affects the skin and nerves outside the brain and spinal cords (peripheral Nerves). Eyes and the thin tissue lining the inside the nose. Loss of sensation occur on the affected area of skin with muscle weakness. 

 

What are types of Leprosy?

Leprosy is characterized according to the number and type of skin sores you have. Specific symptoms and your treatment depend on the type of leprosy you have. The types are:

 

Paucibacillary/tuberculoid. A mild, less severe form of leprosy. People with this type have only one or a few patches of flat, pale-coloured skin (paucibacillary leprosy). The affected area of skin may feel numb because of nerve damage underneath. Tuberculoid leprosy is less contagious than other forms.

Multibacillary/lepromatous. A more severe form of the disease. It involves widespread skin bumps and rashes (multibacillary leprosy), numbness and muscle weakness. The nose, kidneys and male reproductive organs may also be affected. It is more contagious than tuberculoid leprosy.

Borderline. People with this type of leprosy have symptoms of both the tuberculoid and lepromatous forms

S. No.

Characteristic

PB (Pauci bacillary)

MB (Multi bacillary)

1.

Skin lesions

1 – 5 lesions

6 and above

2.

Peripheral nerve involvement

No nerve / only one nerve with or without 1 to 5 lesions

More than one nerve irrespective of number of skin lesions

3.

Skin smear

Negative at all sites

Positive at any site

 

How do you diagnose?

If patients have a suspicious skin sore, your doctor will remove a small sample of the abnormal skin and send it to a laboratory to be examined. This is called a skin biopsy. A skin smear test may also be done. With paucibacillary leprosy, no bacteria