The leprosy is a chronic infectious disease caused by Hansen’s bacillus, whose scientific name is Mycobacterium leprae. It is characterized by nervous and cutaneous symptoms, with the appearance of spots, tubercles and ulcers.
Throughout history, leprosy has been a stigma for those who have suffered it. In ancient times, lepers were excluded from the society and locked up in leprosariums; Regardless of the moral issues that such imprisonment implies, today it is known that it was an extreme and unnecessary measure even when, since leprosy is a disease of very low transmissibility when treated correctly.
Over and above the abusive character of the ancient treatments, leprosy shamed its bearers with its terrible mutilations, and condemned them to certain death. The oldest evidence of this disease It dates back at least four millennia, according to the discovery of the remains of a young man who appears to have died without having received any kind of cure. Previously, the skeleton of a victim had been found in Egypt for two hundred years BC.
The leprosariums were extremely deep and wide graves, connected with natural caves in which the patients had to spend 24 hours a day. In these caves their little shelters were set up. When a person contracted leprosy, he was taken to this place of isolation, saying goodbye forever to his loved ones, who were in charge of the provision of food.
This was done using a system of gears (similar to an elevator but much more rustic) on which provisions were raised and lowered, without having to come into direct contact with the infected. It is important to note that entry to these centers was prohibited: they were living graves, where no type of treatment was offered, which allowed the plague to spread more quickly and nullified any possibility of Recovery.
Two types of leprosy can be distinguished: tuberculoid leprosy produces stains that become anesthetic, while the lepromatous leprosy it is characterized by large nodules known as lepromas.
Leprosy can lead to the destruction of fabrics, the deformation and mutilation of the patient. There are drugs and corticosteroids for the treatment of the disease, while surgical intervention may be an option to avoid deformities.
The only way to prevent leprosy is to avoid Contact physical closeness with the sick who are not in treatment. Frequent hand washing is also recommended. It should be noted that affected subjects who are receiving medication do not transmit the disease in the long term.
The first symptom Leprosy usually appear between 4 and 8 years after exposure to the bacteria and include numbness of the extremities, the appearance of nodules, sore skin and nasal congestion. Leprosy can be diagnosed from a biopsy.
With regard to its treatment, throughout the history Different methods have been tried, ranging from religious practices to the application of gynocandia oil, which began to be used in the early 1900s, through injections, and was widely accepted for some time. In the late 1930s, medicine began to experiment with the use of dapsone (an antibiotic that is consumed orally and that also works to fight dermatitis); its success was moderate, given the appearance of strains of leprosy that resisted it.
It was only after 1980 that the science took great strides in the battle against leprosy by beginning to treat it by using multiple medications at the same time. At present, it is applied dapsone and rifampin simultaneously, in daily doses, with variants that include the interruption of dapsone before the appearance of fever, in which case it is replaced by clofazimine. It is worth mentioning that it is recommended to maintain said treatment for a minimum of six months and an estimated maximum of two years, depending on the case.