Updated: Jun 1, 2020
Leprosy is a contagious disease that causes severe, dislocated skin lesions and nerve damage in the hands, feet, and skin areas around the body. The disease has been in place since ancient times, often surrounded by terrible, negative stigmas, and stories of leprosy patients. The bacterium Mycobacterium leprosy causes leprosy. It is thought that exposure to mucous secretions of a person with infection spreads leprosy. It usually occurs when a person suffering from leprosy sneezes or coughs. The disease is not highly contagious. The oldest civilizations of China, Egypt, and India feared leprosy was an incurable, mutilating, and contagious disease.
Leprosy is caused by a slow-growing bacterium called Mycobacterium leprae (M. leprae). After the scientist who discovered leprosy in 1873, leprosy is also known as Henson's disease.