Epidemiology

At the beginning of 2005, the global registered prevalence of leprosy was close to 300,000 (15). This number has fallen every year in the past decade, presumably due to availability and impact of multidrug therapy (MDT). The Indian subcontinent has the largest number of patients with leprosy; in the Americas, the highest incidence is seen in Brazil.

Men and women are affected equally, but the lepromatous form of leprosy is seen twice as frequently in men as in women. Leprosy can affect all ages and is spread through close or intimate contact. The bacillus is spread via nasal or oral droplets and, less often, from eroded skin. The incubation period ranges from months to decades, but is usually less than five years.

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