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According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 180,000 people worldwide are infected with leprosy and most of them in Africa and Asia. Leprosy encompasses erroneous customs and beliefs throughout history, banished people who suffered from the disease and compounded stigmatization and discrimination. However, there are few quick facts about this skin disease that every one of us must be aware of. Dr Sakshi Srivastava, Consultant Dermatologist, Jaypee Hospital, Noida shares few facts about leprosy also known as Hansen s disease.
#1. It is a common orthodox belief that leprosy spread via human touch, which is not true. In reality, the bacteria doesn't enter your body through human touch and hence, you must stop believing the age-old conviction about leprosy. In reality, you can only catch the disease only if you come into close and repeated contact with nose and mouth droplet from someone with untreated leprosy.
#2. Children are more likely to get leprosy than adults. This could be attributed to the fact that kids have a lower immunity as compared to adults, which makes them more prone to the infections.
#3. The disease-causing bacteria, which is Mycobacterium leprae, usually takes about three to five years for symptoms to appear after coming into contact with the bacteria. This means that the incubation period of the bacteria is high. It is defined as the time between contact with the bacteria and the appearance of symptoms. Here's more on symptoms of leprosy you should know!
#4. Although leprosy is known as a skin disease because of the skin lesions and physical deformity, the condition primarily affects the peripheral nerves. The secondary site of infection involves skin and certain other tissues or organs, in particular, the eyes, mucus of the nasal and upper respiratory tract. As the nerves are affected, the growth and development are hampered which causes physical deformity in people with leprosy.
#5. Leprosy can be classified on the basis of clinical manifestations and skin smear results. In the classification based on skin smears, patients showing negative smears at all sites are said to have paucibacillary leprosy (PB), while those showing positive smears at any site are said to have multibacillary leprosy (MB). Both the types of leprosy can be treated with antibiotics. Also read about few interesting facts about leprosy you didn t know.
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