Hansen’s disease is yet another term for leprosy, a chronic,infectious disease of the skin, nerves, lymph nodes and eyes, which alsoaffects internal organs such as liver, spleen and testicles. Mycobacteriumleprae is the main cause of leprosy, which is typical for tropical areas ofAfrica, South and Central America, and South Asia. Even though a very smallnumber of people are prone to this disease, it is generally transmitted fromperson to person.
Given that it attacks the nerves, and usually the nerves of hands,feet, face and knees; one of the main symptoms of Hansen’s disease is numbnessof these parts of the body. This numbness leads to the loss of temperaturesensation. It is not at all uncommon that a person can get cuts and burns onthe affected parts of the body, without even feeling it, and this can lead tofurther serious complications. Other symptoms are various skin abnormalities,lighter or thicker skin than normal, nosebleeds and nasal congestion. Pain anddeep pressure in the extremities, especially in toes or fingers, are verycommon symptoms, but they develop much later. Facial changes are the mostserious and very visible symptoms, which, in some cases cannot be treated.However, it is important to mention that the symptoms regarding this diseasedevelop slowly, and sometimes it can even take months after the infection,before the first symptoms appear. This means that a person can be infected evenfor years, without knowing it.
Today, all the five forms of this disease can be cured byantibiotics mostly, and there may be no consequences at all if the disease isdiagnosed on time. However, if left untreated, it may leave seriousconsequences in forms of severe facial deformities and skin abnormalities.After the person is diagnosed with Hanson’s disease, it is highly recommendedfor everyone who was in any kind of a direct contact with that person to gothrough the examinations in order to determine whether the infection wastransmitted or not. The medicines which are used in the treatment of thisdisease are used in combination, because that way they give the best results.These medicines are rifampicin, clofazimine and daps one, and it is importantto bear in mind that the treatment of leprosy in the great majority of thecases lasts for months, and sometimes even for a whole year. The vaccineagainst leprosy is still not available, but there are ongoing researches whichgive the hope that very soon there might be the way to prevent it.