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History of Leprosy in India: An overview of historic and modern contributions

      Abstract

      Traditionally, India holds the unenviable position of the origin of leprosy. The disease is thought to have spread, via trade and war, to China, Egypt, and the Middle East, and later to Europe and the Americas. From antiquity to modernity, Indian society treated leprosy singularly for custom and law, a response shaped by both scientific knowledge and cultural attitudes. Over the past centuries, tireless research by eminent physicians and scientists working in India. like Carter, Rogers, Muir, Dharmendra, Khanolkar, and Bapat, amongst others, have led to a better understanding of clinical, bacteriologic, pathologic, and immunologic aspects of leprosy. Therapeutic modalities which were initially restricted to chaulmoogra expanded to include newer anti-leprotic medications (Cochrane), and even surgical reconstruction (Brand and Antia) of deformities. India's future challenges in leprosy control include stigmata, educational knowledge gaps, and multiple systems of medicine. This contribution is an attempt to comprehensively discuss the historic aspect of this elusive disease focussing on the varied scientific contributions from India.

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