Leprosy is a chronic disease caused by a bacillus, Mycobacterium leprae, an acid-fast, rod-shaped bacillus. Leprosy mainly affects the skin, the peripheral nerves, mucosa of the upper respiratory tract and the eyes, apart from some other structures. Depending on the bacillary load, the disease can be classified as either paucibacillary or multibacillary. M. leprae multiplies very slowly and the incubation period of the disease is about five years. Symptoms can take as long as 20 years to appear.
Leprosy is not highly infectious. It is transmitted via droplets, from the nose and mouth, during close and frequent contacts with untreated cases. Leprosy is curable and treatment provided in the early stages averts disability. The diagnosis and treatment of leprosy today is easy and most endemic countries are striving to fully integrate leprosy services into existing general health services. This is especially important for those under-served and marginalized communities most at risk from leprosy, often the poorest of the poor.
"Small bites can be big threats," experts warn on World Health Day
Mosquitoes, ticks, flies and other insects can be far more than a nuisance. The diseases they carry-malaria, dengue, yellow fever, West Nile virus, Lyme disease and many others-can cause serious illness and in some cases death. In the Americas, one out of every two people lives in an area at risk of one or more of these vector-borne diseases.
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In Latin America and the Caribbean
In the Americas
:: Scientific and Technical Materials
Global Program and Initiatives
Technical and scientific publications
:: Communication Materials
:: Mandates and Strategies
- 65/215. Elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members; 2010
- CD35.14: Eradication/Elimination of Certain Diseases from the Region
- WHA51.15: Elimination of Leprosy as a Public Heath Problem
- WHA44.9: Adoption of Multidrug Therapy for Elimination of Leprosy as a Public Health Problem; 1991