PHONE 800.543.3135 OR 864.271.7040
1873: Dr. Armauer Hansen of Norway was the first to see the leprosy germ under a microscope. This was a revolutionary discovery. The evidence was clear: leprosy is caused by a germ (Mycobacterium leprae). It was not hereditary, a curse, or from sin. Because of Dr. Hansen's work, leprosy is also called Hansen's disease.
1894: "Carville" is established as a state leprosy hospital in Carville, Louisiana.
Early 20th century: From the early 1900s through the late 1940s, leprosy doctors in Africa, Asia, the Far East, South America and elsewhere injected patients with oil from the chaulmoogra nut. This painful treatment appeared to work for some patients. Long term benefits were questionable, though.
1906: The organization that would become American Leprosy Missions is founded in New York City by a group of seven prominent ministers, mission executives and businessmen at the urging of Thomas Bailey, a representative from the London-based "Mission to Lepers in India and the East".
1941: This year saw the introduction of promin for leprosy treatment at "Carville," the U.S. Public Health Service facility in Louisiana. There was a painful downside to promin: it required too many injections.
1950s: Dr. R.G. Cochrane was a pioneer in the use of dapsone pills which became the treatment of choice during the 1950s. Disappointment followed, though, as the leprosy bacilli began developing dapsone resistance. The germs were becoming smarter than the medicine.
1970s: Success at last! Drug trials on the island of Malta in the 1970s led to an effective combination of drugs to treat leprosy.
1981: The World Health Organization started recommending multi-drug therapy, or MDT. The three drugs, taken in combination, are dapsone, rifampicin (or rifampin) and clofazimine. Treatment takes from six months to a year or more.
1982: American Leprosy Missions began using multi-drug therapy in its projects. During the last 18 years, millions of people have been cured of leprosy with MDT.
2011: Early treatment with MDT is the best prevention against nerve damage and deformities. There is still no vaccine against leprosy, although American Leprosy Missions has been funding vaccine research.
American Leprosy Missions has been ministering to people affected by leprosy for more than 100 years. Join us in healing people and communities! Donate now.