Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Leprosy in modern history

Leprosy is also known as Hansen’s disease or neurodermatitis and is caused by a rod-shaped bacterium Mycobacterium leprae, that is spread in droplets of nasal mucus.

According to historical and archeological evidence leprosy was first spread to the Middle East in the days of Alexander the Great, during the years 324-325 BC, and was not known before.

The Greek word lepra was most likely used to mean a variety of severe skin diseases. Greek medical writings later than the third century BC provide the earliest clinical references to modern leprosy.

In medieval Europe, leprosy patients had to carry a ‘clapper’ to warn others that a person with leprosy was approaching. Even as late as 1913, state Senator G.E Willet of Montana was forced to give up his seat after he was diagnosed with leprosy.

In the 1870s, Armauer Hansen discovered microbe that causes the affliction and treatments were eventually developed. A prominent dermatologist in Norway, Daniel Cornelius Danielsen, wrote the first extensive description of leop0rsy, it was this description that Hansen used 20 year later as the basis for his studies of leprosy.

In the 1980s, a set of drugs was discovered that together can stop the progress of the disease. Today, 75% of all cases of leprosy occur in South East Asia, primarily in India.
Leprosy in modern history

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