Indexed with PubMed and Science Citation Index (E) 
Users online: 2362 
     Home | Feedback | Login 
About Current Issue Archive Ahead of print Search Instructions Online Submission Subscribe What's New Contact  
    Next article
    Previous article
    Table of Contents

    Similar in PUBMED
    Search Pubmed for
    Search in Google Scholar for
  Related articles
    Citation Manager
    Access Statistics
    Reader Comments
    Email Alert *
    Add to My List *
 * Requires registration (Free)

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded288    
    Comments [Add]    

Recommend this journal


Year : 2016  |  Volume : 82  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 23--27

Viability of Mycobacterium leprae in the environment and its role in leprosy dissemination

1 Department of Microbiology and Molecular Biology, National JALMA Institute for Leprosy and Other Mycobacterial Diseases, Agra, India
2 Department of Biotechnology, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh, India
3 Department of Microbiology and Molecular Biology, Model Rural Health Research Unit, Ghatampur, Uttar Pradesh, India

Correspondence Address:
Partha Sarathi Mohanty
National JALMA Institute for Leprosy and Other Mycobacterial Diseases, Dr. M Miyazaki Marg, Tajganj, Agra - 282 004, Uttar Pradesh
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0378-6323.168935

Rights and Permissions

Background: Leprosy, a chronic disease caused by Mycobacterium leprae, is a public health concern in certain countries, including India. Although the prevalence of the disease has fallen drastically over time, new cases continue to occur at nearly the same rate in many regions. Several endemic pockets have been observed in India and elsewhere. The precise dynamics of leprosy transmission are still not clearly understood. Both live bacilli as well as M. leprae DNA have been detected in the soil and water of endemic areas; they possibly play an important role in disease transmission. Aims: To study the occurrence of viable M. leprae in environmental samples collected from areas of residence of patients with active leprosy. Methods: The study was conducted on 169 newly diagnosed leprosy patients in Ghatampur, Uttar Pradesh, India. Soil and water samples were collected from their areas of residence using a standardized protocol. An equal number of soil and water samples were also collected from non-patient areas of the same or adjoining villages. The environmental samples collected from the patients surroundings were subjected to 16S ribosomal RNA gene analysis after obtaining informed consent. Results: About a quarter of the environmental samples collected from patient areas, (25.4% of soil samples and 24.2% of water samples) were found to be positive for specific 16S ribosomal RNA genes of M. leprae. Environmental samples collected from non-patient areas were all found negative for M. leprae 16S ribosomal RNA genes. Limitations: The major limitation of the study was that the sample size was small. Conclusion: The study demonstrated the presence of viable strains of M. leprae in skin smear samples of paucibacillary patients and multibacillary patients, as well as in the environmental samples obtained from around their houses. This could play an important role in the continued transmission of leprosy.


Print this article     Email this article

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