Friday, September 30, 2016

Discovery of leprosy

Leprosy a disease cited in the Old Testament, was an epidemic disease that spread over Europe and reached its speak at the end of the thirteenth century, eliminated by bubonic plaques that killed most of the susceptible debilitated lepers along with half of the overall population.

 Examination of mummies in Egypt indicates that the disease existed in that country as early as the 2nd century BC. It is believed that in the 1st century BC, following fighting in Egypt, Roman soldiers of the army of Pompey, carried the disease with them when they travelled from Egypt to Italy.

Historical accounts of ‘affliction’ point to leprosy; through the ages the disease conjured up dreadful images of rejection and exclusion from society, disfiguring skin lesions, and fingers and toes falling off. People suffering from the disease were required to carry and ring bells and to shout ‘unclean’ as the approached others.

A prominent dermatologist in Norway, Daniel Cornelius Danielsen, wrote the first extensive description of leprosy in 1847.

It was this description that Norwegian physician Gerhard Henrik Armauer Hansen used 20 years later as the basis for his studies of leprosy.

In 1873, Hansen succeeded in isolating and identifying Mycobacterium leprae under the microscope. Hansen garnered the recognition he so deserved in 1909, when he was horned at the Second International Leprosy Congress in Bergen, Norway.

On the basis of observations made in the 19th century by Virchow Binford, in 1956, postulate that the leprosy bacillus grew best in the cooler parts of the body and that inoculation of ears, footpads and testes of animals might be fruitful.

Mycobacterium leprae could not be cultivated in vitro or transmitted to animals until 1960 when Shepard reported the establishment of a local disease in the mouse footpad.
Discovery of leprosy

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