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Clin Dermatol. 2015 Jan-Feb;33(1):3-7. doi: 10.1016/j.clindermatol.2014.07.012.

Lepra: various etiologies from miasma to bacteriology and genetics.

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Department of Ophthalmology, Poznań City Hospital, ul. Szwajcarska 3, 61-285 Poznań, Poland; Department of Ophthalmology, University of Warmia and Mazury, Olsztyn, Poland. Electronic address:
Department of Ethics and Human Philosophy, Medical University of Lublin, 20-059 Lublin, ul. Staszica 2/4 Poland.
1st Department of Internal Medicine, Saint Hedwig the Queen District Hospital, ul. Piłsudskiego 11, 22-500 Hrubieszów, Poland.
Research Department, Instituto Lauro de Souza Lima, Bauru, Brazil.


Leprosy is a chronic infectious disease caused by a close relative of Mycobacterium tuberculosis: Mycobacterium leprae. There have been various beliefs in its etiology with two main concepts emerging: anticontagion and contagion. From ancient times through the early Middle Ages, the miasmatic theory of leprosy was the main anticontagion view. The development of histopathologic and cytologic studies in the second half of the 19th century provided a starting point to explain the etiology of leprosy bacteriologically.

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