What is the WHO case definition of leprosy?

Updated: Jun 05, 2020
  • Author: Darvin Scott Smith, MD, MSc, DTM&H; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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The WHO case definition of leprosy is M leprae infection in an individual who has not completed a course of treatment and has one or more of the following:

  • Hypopigmented or reddish skin lesions with loss of sensation
  • Involvement of the peripheral nerves as demonstrated by their thickening and associated loss of sensation
  • Skin smear positive for acid-fast bacilli

This definition does not include patients who have completed an entire round of treatment but still have residual disabilities. The WHO recommendation as of 2018 is to continue to base diagnosis on the above clinical presentation combined with a confirmatory laboratory test, such a slit-skin smear or biopsy.

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