• F. J. H. N. Braga
Part of the Developments in Nuclear Medicine book series (DNUM, volume 34)


Leprosy (or Hansen’s disease) is a millenary chronic infectious granulomatous disease caused byMycobacterium lepraea bacillus that has a strong positive neurotropism (120). Skin is most frequently affected, but nearly all organs may be affected. Deformation was very common in the past, but it still occurs. The number of individuals deformed by leprosy, including those cured of the disease, has been estimated at between 2 and 3 million (121). In the 1980’s, the World Health Organisation estimated that more than 12 million people were affected by leprosy in the world. This had been a constant estimate since the 1960’s. Considerable progress has been made in the fight against leprosy during the past 10-15 years. In 1991, incidence had been estimated at 5.5 million. Current estimates indicate that there are about 1.15 million cases of leprosy in the world (122), but the real extent of the problem remains obscure. The WHO had the goal of eliminating leprosy as a public health problem by the year 2000. Unfortunately that goal has also led many to believe that leprosy would soon be eradicated. This did not happen and it will probably not happen in the near future, despite the fall in registered cases. The incidence of the disease has changed very little, and eradication of a bacterial infectious disease such as this is unlikely with chemotherapy alone (123), although some authors support such an idea. In fact, the disease can be cured thanks to a multidrug treatment schedule with rifampicin, clofazimine, and dapsone (which has been in use since 1981) and many believe that eliminating leprosy is an attainable goal, which would depend on the forceful and massive use of the multidrug treatment regimen (124). The real number of cases is supposed to be more than 5 times greater than the effectively registered in some countries (125).


Anterior View Leprosy Patient Lepromatous Leprosy Hypertrophic Osteoarthropathy Bacterial Infectious Disease 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2002

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  • F. J. H. N. Braga

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