Leprosy is a chronic and infectious disease that caused by a slow-growing type of bacteria called Mycobacterium leprae. Leprosy primarily affects the nerves of the extremities, the lining of the nose, and the upper respiratory tract. Leprosy causes severe, disfiguring skin sores and nerve damage in the arms and legs, and muscles weakness. Leprosy has been around since ancient times and is mainly common in countries with tropical or subtropical climates.
What causes Leprosy?
Leprosy is caused by the acid-fast, rod-shaped bacteria Mycobacterium leprae. It is not very contagious and has a long incubation period which makes it hard to know where or when someone caught the disease. It is believed that the bacteria spread when a person breathes in tiny airborne droplets released when someone with leprosy coughs or sneezes. The bacteria may also be passed on by coming into contact with the nasal fluids of a person with leprosy.
What are the symptoms of Leprosy?
Leprosy primarily affects the skin and the nerves outside the brain and spinal cord, called the peripheral nerves. It may also strike the eyes and the thin tissue lining the inside of the nose. The main symptoms of leprosy include:
1. Skin lesions that are lighter than your normal skin color.
2. Lesions that have decreased sensation to touch, heat, or pain
3. Lesions that do not heal after several weeks to months.
Nerve damage can lead t:
• Muscle Weakness
• Numbness or lack of feeling in the hands, arms, feet, and legs.
Forms of Leprosy
Leprosy is defined by the number and type of the skin sores you have. The first category is paucibacillary, in which five or fewer lesions with no bacteria are detected in the skin sample. The second category is multibacillary, in which there are more than five lesions, bacteria is detected in the skin smear, or both. Specific symptoms and treatment depend on the type of leprosy you have. The types are:
• Intermediate leprosy: a few flat lesions that sometimes heal by themselves and can progress to a more severe type.
• Tuberculoid leprosy: a mild, less serve form of leprosy. People with this type have only one or a few patches of flat, pale-colored skin. Some nerve involvement may cause the affected area of skin to feel numb.
• Lepromatous Leprosy: A more severe form of the disease. It causes widespread skin bumps and rashes, numbness, hair loss and muscle weakness.
• Borderline: People with this type of leprosy have symptoms of both the tuberculoid and lepromatous forms.