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Year : 2005  |  Volume : 71  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 267--269

Presence of Mycobacterium leprae in epidermal cells of lepromatous skin and its significance

1 Departments of Pathology, Schieffelin Leprosy Research and Training Centre, Karigiri, Vellore, India
2 Departments of Dermatology, Schieffelin Leprosy Research and Training Centre, Karigiri, Vellore, India

Correspondence Address:
Jasmita Satapathy
Department of Pathology, Schieffelin Leprosy Research & Training Centre, Karigiri-632106, Vellore, Tamilnadu
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0378-6323.16620

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A 49-year-old man with lepromatous leprosy treated with dapsone monotherapy for 12 years (1967 to 1979) reported in the hospital in 2003, with relapsed disease. A slit skin smear showed a bacteriological index of 4+. Biopsies from skin lesions before and after anti-leprosy therapy showed features of lepromatous leprosy. Both biopsies showed unusual features of bacillary clumps in epidermal cells demonstrating clearly that dissemination of M. leprae can take place even through unbroken skin. The presence of lepra bacilli in clumps in the epidermis is an indicator that the skin is a potential route of transmission of the disease.


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Online since 15th March '04
Published by Wolters Kluwer - Medknow