Leprosy, caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium leprae, is a chronic infectious disease that affects the skin and peripheral nerves. While it is considered a rare disease, it is still a significant public health problem in many parts of the world, particularly in tropical and subtropical regions.

Mycobacterium leprae is an intracellular, acid-fast bacillus that primarily attacks the skin and peripheral nerves. It is transmitted through prolonged close contact with an infected person, with the majority of cases occurring in communities with poor living conditions and inadequate hygiene.

The disease is characterized by a spectrum of clinical manifestations, ranging from mild skin lesions to severe or disfiguring skin and facial deformities. Some infected individuals may also experience nerve damage, leading to numbness, weakness, and muscle wasting in the affected areas.

While leprosy is treatable with multi-drug therapy, delayed diagnosis and inadequate treatment can result in serious complications, such as loss of sensation or function in the affected body parts. Early detection and prompt treatment are crucial to prevent the spread of the disease and prevent long-term disability.

Efforts to eliminate leprosy as a public health problem have been underway for several decades, with significant progress made in reducing the global burden of the disease. However, continued investment and political commitment are needed to achieve the goal of a world free of leprosy.