Leprosy is caused by a slow-growing bacillus, Mycobacterium leprae. It is transmitted via droplets from the nose and mouth of untreated patients with severe disease, but is not highly infectious. If left untreated, the disease can cause nerve damage, leading to muscle weakness and atrophy, and permanent disabilities.
Leprosy can be easily treated with a 6–12-month course of multidrug therapy. The treatment is highly effective, and has few side-effects and low relapse rates; there is no known drug resistance.
Information campaigns about leprosy in high risk areas are crucial so that patients and their families, who were historically ostracized from their communities, are encouraged to come forward and receive treatment. The most effective way of preventing disabilities in leprosy, as well as preventing further transmission of the disease, lies in early diagnosis and treatment with MDT.
TDR related research
Currently, TDR has no research on this disease.
WHO estimates investments needed for neglected tropical diseases
EDCTP tuberculosis disease priorities published
EDCTP neglected infectious disease priorities published
Publications and articles
Changing Mindsets: Research Capacity strengthening in low and middle-income countries
A human rights-based approach to neglected tropical diseases
Strategic and business plan for the African Network for Drugs and Diagnostics Innovation (ANDI)