What do you really know about leprosy? It was a terrible disease from long ago that many people died from? Did you know that it’s still alive and well in our world?
Thousands of leper colonies still exist in the countries that have been hit the hardest from it in the past 4000 years. India, Japan, China, Romania, Egypt, Somalia, Vietnam and others are in this group. That’s not to mention the animals that walk amongst us carrying this disease quietly.
What does it do?
All the way back to the beginning of human beings there have been cases, often wide spread of this awful infectious disease. Once one is infected, the body will undergo infections that will kill tissue and lead to skin lesions, scarring and eventually disfigurement. It does not cause body parts to fall off as popular myth leads us to believe. It simply shrinks the portion of body it has affected. One the tissue dies, the cartilage is simply absorbed into the body.
How is it treated?
Leprosy is treated quite different in these modern times than it was hundreds or even thousands of years ago. In this day and age we are about 95% leprosy proof. This means most people, even if in close contact of a leper, will not be affected by the cartilage consuming bacteria.
Until the introduction of treatment option called promin in the 1940s, there was no treatment for leprosy. The efficiency of promin was first discovered by Guy Henry Faget and his co-workers in 1943 in Carville, Louisiana.
The disease was known in Ancient Greece as elephantiasis (elephantiasis graecorum). At various times blood was considered to be a treatment either as a beverage or as a bath.This practice seems to have originated with the Ancient Egyptians but was also known in China, where people were murdered for their blood. This practice persisted until at least 1790. Snakes were also used and in 1913 tried increasing doses of bee stings (up to 4000). Scorpions, frogs and climbing fish were also used as possible treatment methods.
Chaulmoogra oil was one of the most popular choices for treating leprosy. The oil has long been used in Indian, China and Burma. An Egyptian boy was treated with the chaulmoogra oil in the late 1800’s and after 6 years and 584 injections, the patient was declared cured. Unfortunately one extreme side effect was the constant nausea.
Animals with Leprosy
The most common leprosy carrying animal is the armadillo. The disease is spread by the nasal mucous of infected people and animals. It is extremely rare to catch this harmful disease, yet it is something that may be playing in our gardens right this second.
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