Hansen's disease (leprosy) remains problematic in the United States and throughout the world. Transmission of bacteria from person to person is uncommon, and armadillos remain the major reservoir in the United States. There is no efficient way to grow the organism in culture, which makes research efforts difficult. Prompt recognition of disease and treatment reduces disease signs and symptoms, such as anesthetic lesions, loss of vision, and amputation. The discovery of antibacterial therapy targeting M. leprae has dramatically improved those infected with Hansen's bacillus. Patients benefit from comprehensive care involving numerous health care professionals. Astute pharmacists who effectively manage antibacterial and reaction therapy will notice improved patient outcomes and quality of life. Major complications today involve immunologic reactions and drug resistance due to lack of compliance. Clinicians can recognize these issues early and adjust treatment appropriately to limit long-term complications from this disease.
The authors would like to thank Barbara Stryjewska, M.D., and Jackie Lea, R.Ph., from the NHDP for helpful discussions regarding the manuscript.
Pharmacotherapy. 2012;32(1):27-37. © 2012 Pharmacotherapy Publications