Leprosy factsheets

Leprosy is a curable chronic infectious disease caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium leprae (M. leprae). Historically, leprosy was once feared as a highly contagious and devastating disease. However, following an initiative from the World Health Organization (WHO) to eliminate leprosy, drug treatment was made available free of charge to all patients worldwide since 1995. The elimination of leprosy as a public health problem (with a worldwide prevalence which is currently less than 1 cases diagnosed per 10,000 persons) was achieved in 2000. Now, the disease is rarely seen; but when seen, it can be easily and effectively treated.