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    Leprosy

    Important
    It is possible that the main title of the report Leprosy is not the name you expected. Please check the synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and disorder subdivision(s) covered by this report.

    Synonyms

    • Hansen's Disease

    Disorder Subdivisions

    • Indeterminate Leprosy
    • Borderline Tuberculoid Leprosy
    • Midborderline Leprosy
    • Borderline Lepromatous Leprosy
    • Lepromatous Leprosy
    • Tuberculoid Leprosy

    General Discussion

    Leprosy is a chronic infectious disease of humans caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium leprae. For many years, it was considered a mysterious disorder associated with some type of curse, and persons with the disease were isolated and ostracized. Today, there is effective treatment and the disease can be cured. There is no longer any justification for isolating persons with leprosy.

    The disease can affect the skin, mucous membranes, and eyes and some of the nerves that are located outside the central nervous system (peripheral nerves). These are primarily the nerves of the hands, feet, and eyes, and some of the nerves in the skin. In severe, untreated cases, loss of sensation, muscle paralysis of hands and feet, disfigurement, and blindness may occur.

    Leprosy has traditionally been classified into two major types, tuberculoid and lepromatous. Patients with tuberculoid leprosy have limited disease and relatively few bacteria in the skin and nerves, while lepromatous patients have widespread disease and large numbers of bacteria. Tuberculoid leprosy is characterized by a few flat or slightly raised skin lesions of various sizes that are typically pale or slightly red, dry, hairless, and numb to touch (anesthetic). Lepromatous leprosy is at the other end of the spectrum, with a much more generalized disease, diffuse involvement of the skin, thickening of many peripheral nerves, and at times involvement of other organs, such as eyes, nose, testicles, and bone. There are also intermediate subtypes between these two extremes that are commonly known as borderline leprosy. The intermediate subtypes are borderline tuberculoid, midborderline, and borderline lepromatous leprosy. Borderline leprosy and the subtypes are characterized by more extensive disease than polar tuberculoid, with more numerous skin lesions and more nerve involvement, but not as widespread disease as in lepromatous leprosy. Indeterminate leprosy refers to a very early form of leprosy that consists of a single skin lesion with slightly diminished sensation to touch. It will usually progress to one of the major types of leprosy.

    In 1982, the World Health Organization proposed a simplified classification that has only two classifications, Paucibacillary (PB) and Multibacillary (MB), leprosy. This classification is now used worldwide for treatment purposes. The older and somewhat more complex classification is still used in some programs, especially for clinical research studies. The Paucibacillary classification encompasses indeterminate, tuberculoid and borderline tuberculoid leprosy. The Multibacillary classification includes midborderline, borderline lepromatous and lepromatous leprosy.

    Resources

    American Leprosy Missions
    1 ALM Way
    Greenville, SC 29601
    USA
    Tel: (864)271-7040
    Fax: (864)271-7062
    Tel: (800)543-3135
    Email: amlep@leprosy.org
    Internet: http://www.leprosy.org

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    1600 Clifton Road NE
    Atlanta, GA 30333
    Tel: (404)639-3534
    Tel: (800)232-4636
    TDD: (888)232-6348
    Email: cdcinfo@cdc.gov
    Internet: http://www.cdc.gov/

    National Hansen's Disease Programs
    1770 Physicians Park Dr
    Baton Rouge, LA 70816
    USA
    Tel: (800)642-2477
    Email: mtemplet@hrsa.gov
    Internet: http://www.hrsa.gov/hansens/

    NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
    Office of Communications and Government Relations
    6610 Rockledge Drive, MSC 6612
    Bethesda, MD 20892-6612
    Tel: (301)496-5717
    Fax: (301)402-3573
    Tel: (866)284-4107
    TDD: (800)877-8339
    Email: ocpostoffice@niaid.nih.gov
    Internet: http://www.niaid.nih.gov/

    Leonard Wood Memorial American Leprosy Foundation deleted
    120 Broadus Avenue
    Greenville, SC 29601
    SUA
    Fax: 8642411755
    Tel: 8772411736
    Email: uholland@leonardwoodmemorial.org
    Internet: http://www.leonardwoodmemorial.org/index.html

    Genetic and Rare Diseases (GARD) Information Center
    PO Box 8126
    Gaithersburg, MD 20898-8126
    Tel: (301)251-4925
    Fax: (301)251-4911
    Tel: (888)205-2311
    TDD: (888)205-3223
    Internet: http://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/GARD/

    Center for Peripheral Neuropathy
    University of Chicago
    5841 South Maryland Ave, MC 2030
    Chicago, IL 60637
    Tel: (773)702-5659
    Fax: (773)702-5577
    Internet: http://peripheralneuropathycenter.uchicago.edu/

    For a Complete Report:

    This is an abstract of a report from the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD). A copy of the complete report can be downloaded free from the NORD website for registered users. The complete report contains additional information including symptoms, causes, affected population, related disorders, standard and investigational therapies (if available), and references from medical literature. For a full-text version of this topic, go to www.rarediseases.org and click on Rare Disease Database under "Rare Disease Information".

    The information provided in this report is not intended for diagnostic purposes. It is provided for informational purposes only. NORD recommends that affected individuals seek the advice or counsel of their own personal physicians.

    It is possible that the title of this topic is not the name you selected. Please check the Synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and Disorder Subdivision(s) covered by this report

    This disease entry is based upon medical information available through the date at the end of the topic. Since NORD's resources are limited, it is not possible to keep every entry in the Rare Disease Database completely current and accurate. Please check with the agencies listed in the Resources section for the most current information about this disorder.

    For additional information and assistance about rare disorders, please contact the National Organization for Rare Disorders at P.O. Box 1968, Danbury, CT 06813-1968; phone (203) 744-0100; web site www.rarediseases.org or email orphan@rarediseases.org

    Last Updated: 4/8/2009
    Copyright 1986, 1990, 1992, 1993, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2007, 2009 National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.

    WebMD Medical Reference from the National Organization for Rare Disorders

    Last Updated: May 28, 2015
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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