Last updated:09-05-2008
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Definition and causes

Leprosy is a bacterial infection caused by the bacteriumMycobacterium leprae. Infections is probably close by prolonged skin contact with places where the skin is damaged, or with droplets from infected persons næseslimhinde. For many professionals considered leprosy, however, as the least infectious disease that exist.

Leprosy occurred earlier across the world, but is now limited to developing countries and are mainly located in India, Africa and other parts of Asia and Central and South America. Bakterien is not available in Denmark and imported rarely do so.

An infection with the bacterium can be regarded as chronic, as there often is a very long time from infection to disease breaks out (a few months to 30 years).

Symptoms of leprosy

Leprosy can act in 2 forms with different udtrykssymptomer:

In people with normal immune systemsis often almost no symptoms. Sjældnere seen symptoms as adiscoloured spot in the skin(pale or red, and possibly. without hair) and the influence of this hudområdes nerves leadingnumbness. Since you can not mark the affected skin, there may arisepressure ulcersorburnsin the area by carelessness.

In people with impaired immune systemsdeveloped symmetrical spedalske skin rash with manyscattered knotsandthickening of the skin. This is seen most frequently in the hands and face, the latter can provide a so-called "løveansigt". Knuderne form graduallywoundsThat can affect the bones, and at worst can lose toes and fingers. Both knots and the wounds are filled with bacteria.

Nerverne affected initially, but later in the process to obtainparalysis of ansigtsnerverneand the effect on the eyes, withblindnessto follow. Leprosy may also providewounds in the mucous membraneson the body.

The 2 above forms can be regarded as different diseases, but at the individual patient, there could be transition from one form to another.


The diagnosis made by a comprehensive medical evaluation of hudpåvirkningen (colour, thickening and numbness) And a skin biopsy . You can also make a specialhudtestto examine the state.

Treatment of leprosy

The disease is treated with chemotherapy with a specialist. The less serious form can be cured at 6 months, while the severe form often require years of treatment.


Despite the fact that the disease is feared and notorious, its smitsomhed referred not much, and at the proper treatment is the prognosis good. In many people with the mild form of leprosy, there spontaneous healing.

The disease has so rarely a fatal course, but the tissue, which is caused by the disease, is unfortunately permanent.

Prevention of leprosy

Before you go to a developing country, is a good idea to talk to the doctor for vaccination. There is a specific vaccine, called BCG vaccination, which provides partial protection against leprosy. The risk of getting leprosy for Danes, who stays in a shorter time in areas where there are many cases of the bacterium, is extremely small.

See more information on the BCG vaccination in The State Seruminstituts website .




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