Medical Definition of leprosy
: a chronic infectious disease that is caused by a mycobacterium (Mycobacterium leprae), affects especially the skin and peripheral nerves, and is characterized by the formation of nodules or macules that enlarge and spread and are accompanied by loss of sensation with eventual paralysis, wasting of muscle, and production of deformities <About 12 million people worldwide have leprosy, a disfiguring, chronic infection that damages nerves, skin, eyes, and mucous membranes.—Harvard Health Letter, February 1998> <The good news is that leprosy is relatively easy to diagnose and cure. It is caused by the microbe Mycobacterium leprae, which produces telltale symptoms of enlarged nerves and light-coloured patches of numb skin on a patient's face or extremities.—Bryn Nelson, New Scientist, 16 July 2005> <Leprosy is actually the least infectious of the major communicable diseases.—Sandra Dallas, Business Week, 1 Mar. 1999> <Leprosy … is progressive and causes the growth of widely distributed lumps on the skin and thickening of the skin and nerves. Severe cases are characterized by muscle weakness and paralysis.—Insight, 22 Dec. 1986>—called also , , ; see lepromatous leprosy, tuberculoid leprosy
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