What causes leprosy?

Leprosy is caused by a germ called Mycobacterium leprae. It was first seen under the microscope by a Norwegian doctor, Gerhard Amauer Hansen. That’s why it is sometimes called Hansen’s Disease.

How is it transmitted?

M. leprae is spread via droplets when an untreated Person With Leprosy (PWL) coughs or sneezes. However, the transmission stops within a month after the start of treatment.

Do fingers and toes of PWLs fall off?

No. M. leprae attacks nerves and destroys the ability to feel pain. Without pain to warn them, PWLs may injure themselves. Repeated injuries lead to the dreadful deformities and disabilities.

I met a man with leprosy on the street. Will I get infected?

No. It is not easy to get leprosy. About 95% of the world’s population has a natural immunity against the disease. For those who do not have this immunity, they must be exposed to the germ for long periods of time before they can be infected.

Is leprosy hereditary?

Leprosy is not hereditary. It is the susceptibility to the disease (the inability to fight the leprosy germs) that is passed on to children. In families where a parent has or had leprosy, it is likely that one or more of the children are susceptible. If the parent does not seek treatment, the susceptible children may get infected.

Is leprosy curable?

Yes, with Multi-Drug Therapy (MDT). It is a combination of at least two of the following drugs: Rifampicin, Clofazimine, Dapsone, Ofloxacin and Minocycline. MDT is taken for one dose (for single-lesion leprosy), six months (for the mild type or PB leprosy), or one year (for the severe or MB type). MDT is available FREE in health centers all over the country.

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