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Mycobacterium leprae: Leprosy-causing bacteria (image enlarged under a microscope)

Cause of the disease

Leprosy (formerly known as leprosy) is a contagious infectious disease caused by a microorganism (bacterium) called Mycobacterium leprae.


Its transmission occurs through direct contact with untreated patients, as they eliminate the bacilli through the upper respiratory tract amid nasal secretions and droplets of speech, cough and sneeze. For patients receiving medical treatment, there is no risk of transmission.

Leprosy Symptoms

Its main signs and symptoms are: tingling sensation, stinging or numbness in the extremities; white or reddish spots, usually with loss of sensitivity to heat, cold, pain and touch; areas of the skin that show altered sensitivity and sweat secretion; lumps and plaques in any region of the body and decreased muscle strength (difficulty holding objects).


Leprosy is curable and its treatment is performed by oral medication. This disease is treated in health facilities and its treatment is free.


An important preventive measure is information about the signs and symptoms of the disease, because the sooner it is identified, the easier and faster the cure will occur. Another preventive measure is the dermato-neurological examination and application of BCG vaccine in people living with the disease.

PLEASE NOTE: The information on this page is only for research and school work. Therefore, they should not be used for medical advice. To do so, see a doctor for advice and proper treatment.