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leprosy

GC: n

S: WHO - http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs101/en/(external link) (last access: 31 July 2015); DORLAND p. 1022, 1023.

N: 1. leprosy (n.): 1530s (earlier lepruse, mid-15c.), from leprous; see leper. First used in Coverdale Bible, where it renders Hebrew cara'ath, which apparently was a comprehensive term for skin diseases. Because of pejorative associations, the use of the word in medical context has been banned by the World Health Organization and replaced by Hansen's disease, named for Norwegian physician Armauer Hansen (1841-1912) who in 1871 discovered the bacillus that causes it.
leper (n.): "one afflicted with leprosy," late 14c., from Late Latin lepra, from Greek lepra "leprosy," from fem. of lepros (adj.) "scaly," from leops "a scale," related to lepein "to peel," from lopos "a peel," from PIE root *lep- "to peel, scale" (see leaf (n.)). Originally the word for the disease itself (mid-13c.); because of the -er ending it came to mean "person with leprosy," so leprosy was coined 16c. from adjective leprous.
2. leprosy, also called Hansen disease, chronic infectious disease that affects the skin, the peripheral nerves (nerves outside the brain and spinal cord), and the mucous membranes of the nose, throat, and eyes. It is caused by the leprosy bacillus, Mycobacterium leprae. Destruction of the peripheral nerves by the bacillus leads to a loss of sensation, which, together with progressive tissue degeneration, may result in the extremities’ becoming deformed and eroded.
3. In almost all cultures throughout history, leprosy has aroused dread and loathing about the prospect of incurable disease and a lifetime of progressive disfigurement. At one time “lepers,” as those with the disease were long called, were ostracized as unclean and were gathered into isolated “leper colonies” in order to keep them out of sight, to control their contagiousness, and to offer them what little treatment was available. In reality, the leprosy bacillus is not highly infectious, in most cases passing from one person to another only after prolonged and close contact (as, for instance, among family members).
4. The bacteria that cause Hansen's disease grow very slowly. It may take 2-10 years before signs and symptoms appear.
5. Cultural Interrelation: Stigma (2012) follows filmmakers Jeff Johns and Ryan Loughridge as they travel the globe to discover why more hasn't been done to completely eradicate the existence of Leprosy in the world.

S: 1. OED - http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&search=leprosy&searchmode=none(external link) (last access: 4 September 2014). 2 & 3. EncBrit - http://global.britannica.com/science/leprosy(external link) (last access: 31 July 2015). 4. CDC - http://www.cdc.gov/leprosy/symptoms/index.html(external link) (last access: 2 December 2013). 5. http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/stigma/(external link) (last access: 4 April 2015).

SYN: 1. Hansen disease. 2. Hansen's disease.

S: 1. EncBrit - http://global.britannica.com/science/leprosy(external link) (last access: 31 July 2015); DORLAND p. 1023. 2. TERMIUM PLUS (last access: 31 July 2015).

CR: bacterium, Buruli ulcer, vitiligo (EN).


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