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LeprosyPast and Present$
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Charlotte A. Roberts

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781683401841

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9781683401841.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM FLORIDA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.florida.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University Press of Florida, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in FLASO for personal use.date: 27 September 2021

Past and Present Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prognosis

Past and Present Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prognosis

Chapter:
(p.89) 3 Past and Present Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prognosis
Source:
Leprosy
Author(s):

Charlotte A. Roberts

Publisher:
University Press of Florida
DOI:10.5744/florida/9781683401841.003.0004

This chapter considers diagnosis of leprosy both today and in the past. Recently, molecular methods have contributed to diagnosis, detecting drug resistant M. leprae strains and bacterial strain-specific markers, assessing exposure to M. leprae, and tracing transmission patterns. Treatment of leprosy is focused on drug therapy, but a holistic approach is needed from both medical and social perspectives. Since the 1940s drug therapy has contributed to leprosy’s decline, free for over twenty years. However, access can be a challenge. Effective vaccines for preventing leprosy need development. Equally important is the prevention and treatment of damage to the hands and feet due to loss of skin sensation. Historically, diagnosis of leprosy in the past could be done by inexperienced people and often seemed inappropriate. However, rational tests are described, such as looking at urine and blood, and focusing on the skin lesions. Treatments were varied, such as bathing, dressing skin lesions, cautery of body parts, and herbal remedies. The most widespread “treatment” was segregation into leprosy hospitals (leprosaria). It is unclear how many people in the past were segregated in this way, compared to the number more readily accepted within their communities.

Keywords:   leprosy, skin lesions, leprosaria

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