Curing leprosy

Yes, leprosy is now curable. For thousands of years, it was considered incurable and the only solution was isolation to protect the still healthy. In the meantime, the pathogen has probably become very different and weakened. After thousands of years of mysterious ignorance, the Norwegian scientist Gerhard Armauer Hansen (1841-1912) first described the leprosy pathogen Mycobacterium leprae in 1893. In the first half of the 20th century, leprosy began to be cured by injecting straw oil. This was accompanied by excruciating pain with little result.

11. Gerhard Armauer Hansen (1841-1912)

And in 1946, the first really effective medicine, Dapsone, was created.

And since 1981, with the increasingly effective combination therapies (rifampicin, clofazimine, dapsone, ethanolamide), curing leprosy has accelerated and the time to cure one patient per treatment is getting shorter. Within 24 hours of starting to take the medicine, the infection in the body stops. Mildly infected people are treated with two components for about 6 months. More severely infected people need to take each component for one and a half to 2 years to recover.

Patients on medication in the early stages will never be seen or known to have ever had leprosy. However, untreated leprosy can result in serious, permanent damage and multiple disabilities.
All this could be completely avoided today! But it is very difficult for the good news of the possibility of a cure to reach the most vulnerable of our fellow human beings. The ancient fear of leprosy, which is also completely unjustified, causes the ignorant environment to stigmatise and exclude those suffering from the disease, and therefore the patients themselves hide their problems out of fear. This in turn hinders or even prevents them from getting help.

The Leprosy Mission is working hard to educate patients and their families not to be afraid, but to recognise and disclose the infection as early as possible, and to dare to seek medical help.


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Frequently asked questions

Infectious? Would we catch leprosy if we were among the sick? Is it hereditary? A fatal disease? How long does it take to develop? Can leprosy be prevented? Find the answers in this article.


Leprosy today

Unfortunately, millions of people in Asia, Africa and South America still suffer from leprosy today! 80% of the world's leprosy patients live in India.


Leprosy in the past

It is one of the oldest diseases of mankind. 1750 BC: The Code of Hammurabi mentions that "lepers are to be excluded from society".