In what year was leprosy discovered?

In what year was leprosy discovered?

Leprosy has always been the cause of serious epidemics which have caused the death of millions of people throughout the world. In what year was it discovered?

Leprosy, or Hansen’s disease, is one of the oldest diseases of our humanity. That is why it is quite difficult to define exactly the date of the discovery of the very first case. However, the oldest texts testify to the presence of the disease around the year 600 BC. Countries like China, India or Egypt would have been the first to be affected by the disease. Indeed, according to various ancient accounts, including that of Sucruta, the oldest and most faithful description of the disease dates from the 6th century BC, in India. At that time, leprosy was called “Kushtha”, literally “the gnawing disease”. Afterwards, leprosy is said to have reached Europe through Greek soldiers returning from the campaign of Alexander the Great in India.

Geographical uncertainties about the origins of the disease

According to some historical accounts from India, the disease would have gradually reached China. As such, if the precise dating of leprosy seems complicateda lot of research can enlighten us to try to locate the geographical origins of this disease. Thus, according to the results of a study carried out in 2005by researchers from the Pasteur Institutethere is evidence that beyond the Indian subcontinent, leprosy comes mainly from East Africa, and even from the Near East region. The spread of the microbe from territory to territory would have been facilitated by the multiple migrations that affected the world at that time.

Even older origins?

As mentioned above, we may lack the data to establish the exact origin of a disease like leprosy. Thus, well before the date of 600 BC, the Bible, in the book of Leviticus, revealed the expression ” Tsaraath “, which could be translated by the expression ” Meadow “. However, in the broad sense, it may be that such a word is used to simply designate skin problems, and not specifically the disease. The story explains the hygiene and health measures, which had been taken to eradicate the disease. Measures that are very similar to those described in the first confirmed cases of leprosy. Finally, in 1750 BC, the Code Hammurabi, in homage to the king of the same name, also included the word “leprosy”, when it comes to to exclude sick patients from the kingdom.

Who discovered leprosy?

Medical language characterizes it as Hansen’s disease. It is an infectious disease as mentioned above which is caused by a bacteria which is similar to tuberculosis bacteria. The bacterium responsible for leprosy is called Mycobacterium leprae and was first discovered by the Norwegian Gerhard Armauer Hansen in 1873.

How did leprosy disappear?

In the past, this disease only affected poor people. For this purpose, it has even been characterized as the disease of the poor. Very present in Europe in the past due to the extreme poverty of the continent, leprosy has now disappeared thanks to the development of medicine which has made it possible to eradicate this scourge. However, there are still some regions in Europe with subjects suffering from this disease.

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