Leprosy. View of the deformed foot of a person suffering from leprosy or Hansen's disease. Leprosy is a chronic inflammatory disease caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium leprae. It results in nerve damage, mainly in the face and limbs, due to the immune system's response to the bacteria as they die. In serious cases, swelling of the nerves, numbness of the skin, muscle weakness and paralysis follow. The loss of feeling means that injuries may not be noticed, leading to the loss of fingers and toes (as here) and general scarring. The disease can be treated with drugs, although nerve damage cannot be repaired. Photographed in Iran.
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