What do I need to know about leprosy?

In the Middle Ages, people with leprosy should carry a bell to announce their presence. At the same time, the disease was pejoratively called leprosy. Because of the stigma, people with the infection were isolated.

Currently, it is known that approximately 95% of the population is naturally immune to leprosy. Despite this, she continues to make victims. In Brazil, there are more than  25 thousand cases  every year.

In this post, learn what leprosy is, the causes, symptoms, treatment and forms of transmission!

What is leprosy?

Leprosy is an infectious disease that affects the skin and peripheral nerves. It usually progresses slowly and its symptoms can take up to 20 years to be felt, in some cases.

If left untreated, leprosy can lead to severe physical disability. Therefore, it is on the list of diseases of compulsory notification, that is, it must be communicated to the medical authority for immediate diagnosis, treatment and control.

What is the history of the disease?

The history of leprosy dates back more than four thousand years, with the disease being initially mentioned in countries in Asia and Africa. Despite this, it was only identified in 1873, by scientist Armauer Hansen.

The classification of leprosy was done for the first time in 1941. Currently, it is more observed in less developed or highly populated nations, but it has been more than two decades that the disease has been treated and cured.

What is the cause?

Leprosy is caused by the bacterium “ Mycobacterium leprae” , which can be found in man, in monkeys, squirrels and mainly in armadillos. This bacillus is slow to evolve – from two to 10 years.

A greater occurrence of the disease is observed in males. To prevent it, basic hygiene care is essential. The BCG vaccine is recommended for individuals living with who has been diagnosed with leprosy.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of leprosy include white or reddish patches on the  skin , loss of sensation, tingling, numbness or tingling and lumps in any region of the body.

In a more advanced stage, the disease can lead to swelling of the nose and ears, contraction of the fingers, paralysis of the feet and hands, reduced muscle strength, wounds on the soles of the feet and blindness.

What are the types of leprosy?

There are two types of leprosy, paucibacillary and multibacillary. Understand!

Paucibacillary leprosy

This type has no or few bacilli, being indeterminate when it does not cause neural damage. Up to five ill-defined patches are observed in the patient. In turn, it is tuberculoid when the skin lesions are well defined and reaches a nerve, which can become inflamed (neuritis).

Multibacillary leprosy

It is leprosy with many bacilli. It can be “boderline” or “dimorphic”, when it involves two or more nerves and there are more than five skin patches that are poorly defined.

The “virchowian” type, on the other hand, makes it difficult to identify between the damaged and normal skin and can affect the nose, as well as the kidneys and reproductive organs of  men . It can also cause skin nodules and neuritis.

How is the disease transmitted?

The transmission of leprosy is the subject of study, but it is believed that it is contracted through the airways. Therefore, close or prolonged contact with a person who has a multibacillary form is a risk factor.

The chances of acquiring the infection increase when there is contact with the nasal discharge of an untreated patient. Touching the skin of an individual with leprosy does not represent a great danger of contagion.

How is the treatment?

Called polychemotherapy, leprosy treatment consists of a combination of two or three antimicrobials. They are for oral use and in the first dose they prevent the patient from transmitting the disease.

Effective and curative, the treatment takes from six months to a year, but it is not able to reverse physical problems and nerve damage, hence the importance of early diagnosis.

During the post, we showed you what you need to know about leprosy. Finally, remember to seek an expert to assess and monitor your  health  regularly, combined?

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