Facts About Leprosy

  • Leprosy also known as Hansen's disease is a chronic infectious disease caused by a type of bacteria, Mycobacterium leprae.
  • It is a neglected tropical disease (NTD) which predominantly affects the skin and peripheral nerves. Left untreated, the disease may cause progressive and permanent disabilities.
  • The bacteria are transmitted during close and frequent contact with untreated cases. However, the patient stops transmitting the disease when they begin treatment.
  • Leprosy is curable with multidrug therapy (MDT) which is a combination of drugs consisting of Rifampicin and Dapsone for paucibacillary leprosy (PB) and Rifampicin, Clofazimine and Dapsone for multibacillary leprosy (MB).
  • Since its introduction, the registered prevalence has decreased substantially, from more than 5 million cases in the 1980s to 133 802 cases in 2021. New cases continued to occur, however, indicating continuing transmission of infection.
  • Leprosy is reported from all the six WHO Regions. While the majority of annual new case detections are from South-East Asia, Leprosy is still an important problem in many parts of Africa, and Latin America.
  • Apart from the registered cases there are a large number of persons cured of leprosy but with residual disabilities. Their number is estimated to be several times that of the registered cases. They need care and rehabilitation.