"Leprosy must be second to everything; second to me being a man, a teacher,
a human being."
Andarge Kinfu, Ethiopia
Junior Dameda Losanganya, IDEA Representative DR Congo, presenting to school children on Hansen's Disease/leprosy. Junior established the Organization of People Affected by Leprosy in Congo which joined IDEA in 2018.
What is Hansen's disease/leprosy? Leprosy, also called Hansen’s disease, is a chronic, infectious disease caused by the bacterium, MycobacteriumLeprae. The disease primarily affects the nerves, skin, upper airways, and eyes.
Can it be cured? Yes. The current treatment is known as multi-drug therapy (MDT). It consists of a combination of three antibiotics—dapsone, rifampin, and clofazimine. Millions of individuals have been cured with MDT, which has been offered free of charge through the World Health Organization since 1995. No isolation is necessary during treatment.
Is it infectious? About one week after treatment begins, leprosy becomes non-infectious and cannot be spread. If left untreated, it is mildly infectious. Leprosy is not easily transmitted as an estimated 95% of the world’s population has a natural immunity to the disease.
How is it spread? The exact means of transmission is not known, but the disease is thought to be spread via droplets from the nose and mouth, through direct contact with an untreated person over a prolonged period of time.
Is it hereditary? No. However, susceptibility to the disease may be inherited. Only about five percent of the world's population is susceptible to leprosy, so very few persons exposed to the disease contract it.
How many people are diagnosed each year and where is it found? The most recent available statistics from WHO show that 210,671 people from 150 countries were diagnosed in 2017. The disease is primarily found in India, Brazil, and Indonesia. About 175 people are diagnosed in the United States annually.
Are there long-term physical effects associated with the disease? Individuals who are diagnosed early and take their medication, will generally be able to prevent nerve loss and related disabilities associated with the disease.