DENNIS KUNKEL MICROSCOPY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DENNIS KUNKEL MICROSCOPY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of Mycobacterium leprae, Gram-positive, rod prokaryote (dividing), cause of leprosy (Hansen's disease). It closely resembles Mycobacterium tuberculosis in size and shape but often has a dense waxy coating. There are three forms of the disease, with lepromatous being the most severe, tuberculoid, and borderline leprosy. The disease is spread in humans by droplets of nasal mucus and a person is infectious only during the first stages of leprosy. Nerve damage usually occurs in limbs and facial areas, which may lead to skin damage, blindness, and disfigurement. Dapsone (diamino diphenyl sulfone) plus other multi-drug therapies can kill the bacteria. Magnification: x3,400 when shortest axis printed at 25 millimetres.
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