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Diseases & Topics

Hansen's Disease (Leprosy)

Hansen's disease, or leprosy, is a chronic infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium leprae bacteria. These bacteria multiply very slowly and mainly affect the skin, nerves and mucous membranes, producing sores, nerve damage and muscle weakness. Hansen's Disease is believed to spread from person to person in respiratory droplets.

Hansen's disease can be treated and controlled with antibiotics. People receiving antibiotic treatment or having completed treatment are considered free of active infection and are non-infectious to others.

About 100 cases of Hansen's disease are diagnosed in the United States each year, mostly in warm regions including the South, California and Hawaii. Worldwide, one to two million people are permanently disabled as a result of Hansen's disease. However, prompt diagnosis and proper treatment can prevent disfigurement and disability.

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