Sidney Wu, MD, FAAP & Daniel Kim, MD, FACP. "Leprosy: Forgotten in America?." Resident & Staff Physician . (2005): -. ( 11/2005 )
A 28-year-old Hispanic male presented with a rash which started at his forehead two years earlier and slowly progressed over his body. Nodular and pruritic, the rash was accompanied by thinning hair and numbness below his knees. Various topical and oral treatments only temporarily relieved his symptoms. Examination revealed nasal congestion, nodular skin lesions most prominently deforming his face, and decreased sensation at the lower limbs. Skin biopsy yielded the definitive diagnosis of leprosy.
Leprosy (Hansen?s Disease), caused by Mycobacterium leprae, was well-recognized among antiquity and often associated with social stigma. Not until the 20th century was the disease more well-understood and specific treatment developed.
Leprosy remains endemic to specific areas worldwide. While overall prevalence has decreased, reported incidence remains steady, including in the United States. Health practitioners in developed countries must remain vigilant of leprosy, especially with increasing travel from endemic areas and the significant morbidity of the disease.