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April 23, 1982


Author Affiliations

From the Division of Microbiology and the Leprosy Registry, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, Washington, DC.

JAMA. 1982;247(16):2283-2292. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03320410059036

TODAY, leprosy impairs the physical, social, and economic well-being of millions. Those who live in Third World countries suffer most, because living conditions are marginal and health care provision systems are undeveloped or disrupted by political ferment.

Most physicians in the United States have had no training or clinical experience in the treatment of leprosy. The influx of immigrants from endemic regions and increased world travel by US citizens make it essential that US physicians become more aware of leprosy and inform themselves of the recent important advances in the art and science of this once-puzzling disease.

In 1874, Hansen, in Bergen, Norway, reported that leprosy was caused by a bacillus and therefore was an infectious and not a hereditary disease, as had been thought previously. During the next 70 years, much was learned about the natural history and the clinical and pathological manifestations of leprosy, but no antibacterial drug