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October 23, 1943


Author Affiliations


From the Department of Dermatology and Syphilology, University of Texas Medical School.

JAMA. 1943;123(8):466-471. doi:10.1001/jama.1943.02840430018005

It may be said without risk of serious contradiction that less is known of the essential factors in the pathogenesis and transmission of leprosy than of the other great infectious diseases of mankind. This defect in our knowledge stands out more prominently when one remembers that leprosy has held the attention of countless persons over centuries of time and has been recognized by layman and physician alike as one of the major scourges of the human race. It is a noteworthy historical fact, in this connection, that leprosy was among the first, if not the first, disease the cause of which was ascribed to a bacterial organism. Hansen first reported the finding of a bacillus as the possible causative agent of leprosy in 1874. It was not until 1882 that Koch announced the identity of the bacillus of tuberculosis.

The faltering progress of our knowledge is to be attributed in