Volume 21, Number 12—December 2015
From the Greek lepros, “scaly,” leprosy is a chronic infectious disease of man caused by Mycobacterium leprae and principally affects the peripheral nerves and skin (Figure). The earliest known skeletal evidence for leprosy has been found in India and dates to 2000
Norwegian physician Armauer Hansen identified the causative agent, Mycobacterium leprae, in 1873; however, it was successfully identified as a bacterium only in 1879 by a young German physician, Albert Neisser, who attempted to take credit for the discovery. Today, leprosy is also known as Hansen disease.
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- Hulse EV. Leprosy and ancient Egypt. Lancet. 1972;2:1203–4 .
- Robbins G, Tripathy VM, Misra VN, Mohanty RK, Shinde VS, Gray KM, Ancient skeletal evidence for leprosy in India (2000 B.C.). PLoS ONE. 2009;4:e5669 .
Suggested citation for this article: Etymologia: Leprosy. Emerg Infect Dis 2015 Dec [date cited]. http://dx.doi.org/10.3201/eid2112.ET2112