Thursday, March 29, 2007

What can you do if you have leprosy?

See your doctor IMMEDIATELY, and DO NOT touch anyone on the way there. Please be sure to cover your nose and mouth should you sneeze or cough on the way over.

In 1894 the state of Lousiana purchased an old sugar cane plantation based in Baton Rouge that was known as Indian Camp, named after a General Camp from the War of 1812. Shortly there after the first of those plagued by Leprosy were moved in. In the 1940's Dr. Guy Faget found a cure for the disease at the center, and by 1999 they had a problem. Now that the disease had been almost eradicated, they were faced with closure, and the property was turned back over to the state of Lousiana. After the terrorist attacks in 2001, the facility became The Southern Anti-terroism Academy in 2002, and now is used to help train emergency personnel.
The cure for leprosy involves a heavy round of antio-biotics, given over the course of a few years, most studies indicate that it takes at least two years to eliminate the bacteria from the body with the antibiotics. Common ones used include Dapsone, Rifampicin, and Monocycline. Oral-cotico steriods, and Thalidomide are useful in preventing too much nerve damage, by reducing the swelling.Ocassionally surgery is used to drain an abcess, or to repair damaged nerves.
Patient education is essential. Leprosy can be cured but it is necessary to take the full course of medication. It is no longer infectious once treatment has begun. Patients should be instructed how to deal with existing nerve damage for example protecting numb feet from injury. Physical, social and psychological rehabilitation is a necessary for those in whom neglected disease has caused havoc.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

What is Leprosy?

Leprosy also known as Hansen's disease, is a chronic infection caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium leprae. Leprosy is an infectious disease that has been known since biblical times. It is characterized by disfiguring skin sores, damage to the peripheral nervous system, and progressive debilitation.

There are two forms of leprosy, tuberculoid and lepramatous. Lepramatous is the more serious of the two, producing large disfiguring nodules. Tuberculoid leprosy symptoms are a few well-defined skin lesions that are numb. Lepromatous leprosy symptoms are a chronically stuffy nose and many skin lesions and nodules on both sides of the body.Leprosy is caused by the organism Mycobacterium leprae.

It usually takes about four years for tuberculoid leprosy symptoms to appear and about eight years for lepromatous leprosy symptoms to appear. Both forms eventually attack the peripheral nervous system, causing weakness, tingling, and eventually loss of function in the arms and legs, including fingers and toes.Leprosy is common in many countries worldwide, and in temperate, tropical, and subtropical climates. Approximately 100 cases per year are diagnosed in the U.S. Most cases are limited to the South, California, Hawaii, and U.S. island possessions.