The history of leprosy, and general information about the disease

 Hands ailing man with leprosy

Leprosy (leprosy) - an infectious disease that affects the skin and peripheral nervous system. The disease leprosy is considered one of the oldest diseases, mention of which occur in the Old Testament. In those days, lepers were considered "unclean." They shied away from healthy people, they were persecuted and deprived of the right to a normal life. The peak incidence of leprosy has to 12-14 centuries, when the infection hit the population of almost all European countries.

To combat leprosy medieval Aesculapius used numerous leper colony - institutions that were engaged in the identification and treatment of lepers. Initially leprosy patients were located in the territory of the monastery, where they were allocated houses and plots for selhozdeyatelnosti. In fact, poor people living in a sort of reservations and had no opportunity to communicate with the rest of the world. However, if the isolation of leprosy patients was fully justified and borne fruit. By the 16th century, leprosy was gone from Europe. Isolated cases of the disease for some time recorded on the territory of the Mediterranean coast and Scandinavia, but large-scale epidemics, it never came.

Today we know almost everything about leprosy. Contrary to popular belief, the infection is not transmitted by simply touching the patient and does not always lead to death. It is known that the disease leprosy threatened only 5-7% of the people, and the other inhabitants of the earth have a stable immunological protection against the pathogen. As for the method of transmission. In most cases, the infection requires a long direct skin contact. There is also a theory that leprosy symptoms which may occur in 10 years after the defeat, gets into the body by inhalation of bacteria allocated from the mouth or the nose of the sick person. Perhaps this assumption is partly explains the fact that today the world has registered about 11 million. Leprosy patients and many of them had no skin contact with infected people.

What is leprosy?

Leprosy is caused by rod-shaped organisms - Mycobacterium leprae . They were discovered in 1874 by scientists G.Hansenom. These microorganisms have properties similar to tuberculosis, but do not possess the ability to proliferate in a culture medium and often does not manifest itself over the years. Suffice it to say that the incubation period of the disease is often 15-20 years, due to the characteristic features of leprosy. In itself it is not able to cause tissue necrosis. This means that the activity of micro-organisms has to be activated by any external factors such as secondary bacterial infections, malnutrition, contaminated water or poor living conditions.

Prolonged incubation and no less long latency period often leads to the fact that the diagnosis of leprosy treatment begins too late, because the doctors are experiencing problems with the objective of early diagnosis of the disease.

Now experts know two forms of leprosy:

  • lepromatous - the causative agent affects primarily on the skin;
  • tuberculoid - mostly a disease affecting the peripheral nervous system.

Isolated and border form of leprosy, which has a tendency of development in any of the two main types of the disease.

Symptoms of leprosy

Tuberculoid form has the following characteristic symptoms of leprosy:

  • the emergence of a clearly defined spot, which gradually increases in size;
  • lack of hair follicles and sweat glands on the affected skin surface;
  • near the spot clearly overtures thickened nerves;
  • muscle atrophy;
  • Education neurotrophic ulcers on the soles;
  • contractures of the hands and feet.

As soon as the disease progresses leprosy symptoms also increase. Over time, patients appear autoamputation phalanges, corneal ulcers and other lesions of the facial nerve, causing blindness.

Lepromatous leprosy manifests itself by extensive lesions of the skin in the form of plaques, papules, stains and knots. As a rule, similar formations occur on the face, ears, elbows, wrists and buttocks. It is often accompanied by the loss of eyebrows leprosy. For the later stages of the disease characterized by distorted facial features, growth of earlobes, nosebleeds, shortness of breath. Also leprosy patients suffering from laryngitis, hoarseness, and keratitis. Infiltration of pathogens in testicular tissue leads to infertility in men.

The treatment of leprosy

 Balm for the treatment of leprosy

For several centuries it has been used against the disease of leprosy haulmugrovoe oil, however, modern medicine has a much more effective means, in particular - sulfone drugs. They do not apply to the specific therapeutic agents, but may stop the development of infections and have a restorative effect on the body.

In milder forms of the disease healing occurs within 2-3 years. Severe leprosy increase this period up to 7-8 years. We also add that recently were found mite strains of bacteria that are resistant to dapsone (the main drugs used in modern medicine), so in recent years, sulfamic agents used in combination with other drugs. For example, when the type of infection lepromatous klofamizin widely used.

Of course, the researchers are not going to rest on our laurels and are looking for more effective ways to deal with leprosy, which will reduce the time of treatment and reduce the severity of symptoms in seriously ill patients.