Leprosy—A Study -- By: Lee S. Huizenga
BSac 83:329 (Jan 1926) p. 29
One of the most interesting of diseases that has come to us from the earliest days and still rages unabated in certain sections is that of leprosy. Traced back as early as 3,000 B. C, it has been known in nearly every century since. From the cradle of the race it spread to practically every country of the world. Men interested in the healing art have observed it; it has arrested the attention of religious bodies; the earliest lawbooks speak of it. This disease has always been looked upon with horror and its sufferers have been society’s outcasts from the earliest date. Owing to lack of knowledge, a disease so old would necessarily be enshrouded in many superstitions and to rid it of all these will require time as well as education.
Even art has busied itself about the leper. One wonders how an artist can see anything in a leper. In Dutch art of the 16th century wood engravings are found portraying the leper at the rich man’s gate. Others show lepers as beggars in the streets of Amsterdam.1
Name And Definition
Leprosy to-day is not denned as in former centuries, and it is well to know this to prevent confusion. Much confusion of thought is due to use of terms which mean something different to one than they do to another. The term leprosy in the Bible, for instance, does not mean the same to many as that term means in a modern book on Diseases of the Skin. To-day leprosy is restricted to a chronic infectious disease either caused by, or at least constantly associated with, Hansen’s Bacillus, characterized by degeneration of the peripheral nerves. This envolvement of the peripheral nerves produces symptoms repulsive in character because it deforms the sufferer. Only in the later stages of the disease are the vital organs affected
BSac 83:329 (Jan 1926) p. 30
when death may be looked for at almost any time. The Hebrew name Zaarath means “stroke,” probably so called because the disease was considered a direct infliction by the hand of the Lord. The Greeks and Arabians speak of it as elephantiasis.
Dr. John Atcherly, M.R.C.S. Eng., L.R.C.P. Lond., of California, U. S. A., is the author of an article in the Medical Record of August 6, 1910, on leprosy. He has had 20 years’ experience in Hawaii, and he devoted the last three years before writing the article, exclusively to the investigation of the cause of leprosy and its treatment. He defines leprosy as:
“A chronic diathetic disease of gradual onset and irregular course, characterized by a fibroid degeneration of the nerve tissue generally, which precedes the deposit ...
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