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Leprosy : Clinical Presentation

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Leprosy is a chronic disease caused by an obligate intracellular, Gram-positive, weakly acid-fast bacillus, Mycobacterium leprae. The bacterium multiplies slowly and the incubation period ranges from 1 to 20 years (average 5 years). Transmission occurs via droplets from the nose and mouth and requires prolonged close and frequent contact with untreated cases.

It mainly affects the skin, peripheral nerves, mucosa of the upper respiratory tract and the eyes. Leprosy is curable with multidrug therapy. Untreated leprosy can cause progressive and permanent damage to the skin, nerves, limbs, and eyes.

The image shows biopsy-proven skin lesions of lepromatous leprosy (same case as the previous image). The patient was a 56 y/o male with a prolonged history of generalised erythema, photosensitivity and widely disseminated reddish brown infiltrated papulonodules and plaques. Image courtesy of: Shahbaz Janjua, MD; Global Skin Atlas; Used with permission.

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