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January 1957

Leprosy and Tuberculosis: Antagonistic Diseases

Author Affiliations

Rosario, Argentina

AMA Arch Derm. 1957;75(1):101-106. doi:10.1001/archderm.1957.01550130103011

The belief that leprosy and tuberculosis are antagonistic diseases is based on immunological, clinical, and epidemiological facts. It is in fact a very seductive belief, which, if confirmed, would clear up many obscurities, but in spite of the various factors in its favor, conclusive proof has not yet been attained.

The Hypothesis and Its Basis

A previous tuberculosis infection in an organism attacked by Mycobacterium leprae has the power of affording a certain grade of protection or resistance against the virulence of the latter bacterium, sometimes even preventing the disease (absolute immunity) or preventing the onset of the malignant form (relative immunity). This protective action can be brought about by an inoculation with attenuated tubercle bacilli (BCG).

Before discussing the bases for this hypothesis, but bearing it in mind, let us examine the prospects of a person exposed to infection from an open