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FEMS Microbiol Lett. 1996 Mar 1;136(3):221-30.

The epidemiology of Mycobacterium leprae: recent insight.

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  • 1Department of Biomedical Research, Royal Tropical Institute, Amsterdam, Netherlands.


Leprosy is still a health problem in many countries. Because the causative organism, Mycobacterium leprae cannot be cultured in vitro, it is virtually impossible to assess exposure, and the onset of infection and disease. As a consequence, the chain of infection, considered as the relationships between M. leprae, transmission and human host, is poorly understood. Here, we discuss a number of organism-, host- and environmental-related factors which may be incriminated in the dynamic process of the development of leprosy disease. The use of modern molecular and immunological tools has become a valuable addition to epidemiological research. Understanding of the epidemiology of leprosy is a prerequisite for effective control of the disease.

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