Hanseniasis is a systemic and infectious disease whose etiologic agent (Mycobacterium leprae or Hansen’s bacillus) has a predilection for and primarily affects the skin and peripheral nerves. It presents chronic evolution that can be interrupted by acute episodes known as hansenic reaction. Diagnosis is mainly clinical, based on a good anamnesis and physical examination of the skin and nerve trunks. The multidrug therapy employed today was first proposed by the WHO in 1982 and is a combination of two (rifampicin and dapsone) or three (rifampicin, dapsone, and clofazimine) drugs that are safe and effective in treating hanseniasis and preventing the emergence of drug resistance. If untreated, the disease can progress to other organs and can cause nerve damage, leading to muscle weakness and atrophy, and permanent physical disabilities and deformities characteristic of the disease. These deformities are responsible for the stigma and prejudice against persons affected by hanseniasis. Prevention of disabilities begins with diagnosing hanseniasis sufficiently early, treating the disease with multidrug therapy, and recognizing and treating reactions and neuritis. Reporting of the disease is mandatory worldwide.
KeywordsHanseniasis Hansen’s disease Leprosy Indeterminate Tuberculoid Virchowian Dimorphous Paucibacillary Multibacillary Multidrug therapy Hansenic reactions Neuritis Deformities Disabilities Household contact
Rapid test lateral flow to M. leprae. It is an immunochromatographic test strip comprising nitrocellulose with a detection reagent made of wool fiber with anti-human IgM antibody labeled with colloidal gold dried from one side, and an absorption strip on the other.
The main antigenic glycolipid of Hansen’s bacillus, the main antigenic determinant being the last part of di- and trisaccharide of the molecule. It is one of the first specific antigens isolated from M. leprae.
A classification of leprosy/hanseniasis for research purposes. This classification made by Ridley and Jopling was based on clinical, histologic, and immunologic differences in the disease, but they are continuous and compose a disease spectrum.
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