Leprosy: From Antiquity to Our Times
Leprosy is an infectious disease whose causative agent are the bacillus Mycobacterium leprae and Mycobacterium lepromatosis. It preferably affects the skin and peripheral nerves. If left undiagnosed and not treated early, it can cause severe deformation and disability. Paradoxically, as treatment became curative, many specialist centers closed, which led to a reduced knowledge of the disease. With the increasing immigration to Europe of people from countries with high prevalence of leprosy, new cases have appeared in European countries namely in Portugal. A strong stigma based on the fear of contagion contributes to the prolonged suffering and delays in diagnosis and treatment of these patients. We make a brief review of this old disease from the ancient times to the present day.
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