Do People Still Get Leprosy?


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Kath Senior answered
Leprosy is regarded as a disease of biblical times but, in fact, it is still a problem in some poor countries in the developing world. It is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium leprae, which is related to the bacterium that causes tuberculosis.

The bacterium infects the nerves in the periphery of the body and affects the skin, causing various grades of deformity. Mild cases show only small areas of affected skin, which just have an altered pattern of colouring. If the disease progresses, there is a thickening of superficial nerves, areas of skin that have no feeling and muscle paralysis. Because the affected person has no feeling in the affected areas, they are more likely to cause damage to their tissues by inadvertently burning or cutting themselves. The lack of feeling takes away the body's normal protective mechanisms.

In extreme forms, the skin forms large nodules and ulcers and the features of the face can be completely destroyed and fingers and toes lost.

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