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Published on Nov 18, 2015

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By Roxanna Fouladi
Photo by urish

Hansen's Disease

is the another name for Leprosy
Although Leprosy is more commonly used than Hansen's disease.
The name Hansen's disease comes from Dr. Gerhard Henrik Armauer Hansen of Norway who was the first person to identify the germ that causes leprosy under a microscope.

The culprit...

is Mycobacterium leprae


  • Disfiguring and pale skin sores, lumps, and bumps
  • -Numbness in legs and arms
  • Paralysis of legs and arms 
  • Eye problems that may lead to blindness
  • Enlarged nerves, esp. around elbows and knees

Incubation Period

  • On average, asymptomatic for 3-5 years
  • May be as long as 20 years
  • Complications: Where and When
Photo by pepe50

Types of Leprosy

Current Treatments

  • Currently-MTR
  • Primary Drug: Dapsone
  • Common Additional Drugs: Rifampin and Clofazimine
  • Orally Taken
  • Dose and Duration Vary By Patient Severity and Age

History of Cures

  • Until Late 1940s- Chaulmoogra Nut Injections
  • 1941- Promin is introduced
  • 1950s- Dapsone pills become the choice treatment.
  • 1970s- First successful MDT for leprosy is developed
  • 1981- WHO recommends Dapsone, Rifampin, and Clofazamine

The biology behind m.leprae

  • 1-8 microns long/ 0.2-0.5 microns in diameter
  • Bacillus
  • Longest doubling time of any known bacteria- 13 days
  • Thrives at temperatures slightly lower than the human body
  • Stains Gram-Positive

Route of infection

Photo by Jeff_Werner


Photo by sixpackshack


Leprosy awareness campaign in Sergipe, Brazil

Leprosy today (2011 data)

Fun Facts on Leprosy in USA

  • 65% of cases are reported in CA, FL, TX, NY, MA, HI, LA
  • 213 new cases reported in 2009
  • Patients are noninfectious after a few treatments- no isolation
  • Without the nerve damage, Leprosy is a minor skin disorder 
  • There were 189,018 cases of leprosy in the world at the end of 2012
Photo by Rennett Stowe