LEPROSY is a disease of great antiquity, and very early
received much attention and study. In giving the laws
to Israel, Moses included a large number of rules for its
recognition, the isolation of the sufferers, the determina-
tion of recovery, and observances to be fulfilled before
the convalescent could once more mingle with his people.
The Bible is replete with accounts of miracles wrought
upon lepers, and during the times of biblical tradition it
must have been an exceedingly common and malignant
At the present time, although we in the Northern
United States hear very little about it, leprosy is still a
widespread disease. It exists in much the same form as
two thousand years ago in Palestine, Syria, Egypt, and
the adjacent countries. It is exceedingly common in
China, Siani, and parts of India. Cape Colony has many
cases. In Europe, Norway, Sweden, and parts of the
Mediterranean coast furnish a considerable number of
cases. Certain islands, especially the Sandwich Islands,
are regular hot-beds for its maintenance. The United
States is not exempt, the Gulf coast being chiefly af-
At one time the view was prevalent that the disease
was spread only by contagion, at another that it was
miasmatic. At present the tendency is to view it as.
coiitagious to a degree rather less than tuberculosis.
Sometimes it is hereditary.
The cause of leprosy is now pretty certainly deter-
mined to be the lepra bacillus (Fig. 65), which was dis-