December 12: Notable dates in leprosy history

1894: Louisiana Leper Home is established on the site of what is now known as Carville, Louisiana. Five men and two women with leprosy were brought by barge to the now-abandoned sugar plantation on a bend of the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

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. However, the long-term benefits were questionable.

1905-1921: Penikese Island Leper Colony is operated by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on an island off the coast of New Bedford and Woods Hole. Anyone in the state who was found to have leprosy was forcibly sent there. During its 16 years in operation, 36 people were treated. Fifteen died, seven were deported, one was released for treatment elsewhere and 13 were transferred to the new facility in Carville, Louisiana.

1906: The organization that would become American Leprosy Missions was 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.”

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He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. (Isaiah 40:29)

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