Hansen's disease Signs
Leprosy is a bacterial infection of the skin and nerves caused by Mycobacterium leprae. Leprosy is a rare infection in Australia, found mainly in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples from northern Australia and migrants from areas where the disease is more common.Signs and symptoms
A person with leprosy may have symptoms across a spectrum ranging from a form of leprosy where:
there are many symmetrical lumps (nodules, papules and macules) on both sides of the body
involvement of the lining of the nose causing crusting and difficulty in breathing
bleeding and inflammation of the eye (keratitis and iritis).
To a form of leprosy where:
there are a few skin lesions with loss of feeling that are clearly marked (loss of pigment or reddish colour)
there is symmetrical thickening of the nerves of the arms, legs and face on both sides of the body with loss of feeling.
Complications of leprosy include permanent deformity and disability, especially of the hands, feet and face; most of which can be prevented by early treatment. Special reconstructive surgery can correct many deformities that develop.
Diagnosis can be made without laboratory tests in some cases but usually a laboratory test is required. The bacteria can be seen with a microscope in a skin smear using a special stain.