A Current Perspective on Leprosy (Hansen’s Disease)
Leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease, is an ancient chronic infectious disease that remains a major problem in the world today, infecting over 200,000 people each year, particularly affecting resource-limited and the most disadvantaged sections of society in under-developed countries of the world. Mycobacterium leprae, a slow-growing mycobacterium, causes leprosy in humans. Leprosy causes nerve damage and permanent disabilities including blindness and paralysis. People affected by leprosy face stigma and discrimination in society. Although multidrug therapy is available, millions of people are still affected by leprosy, so new vaccine, drug and disease management approaches are urgently needed for control, prevention and treatment of this disease. This chapter is a general review of leprosy, the current treatment and prevention measures and challenges that need to be addressed for complete eradication of this disease.