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Hansen’s Disease (Leprosy)

UCSD Dermatology is partnering with San Diego County Health & Human Services to provide team approach clinical care for patients with Hansen's Disease.

San Diego Hansen’s Disease Clinic
HHSA, North Central Regional Center
5055 Ruffin Road, Mail Stop: N-513
San Diego, CA 92123

PH: 858-573-7320
Fax: 858-573-7325 


Dr. Erik O. Gilbertson

Krisanto Equipado, RN -  Public Health Nurse
Phone: 858-573-7320
Ron Jerskey - Occupational Therapist

For National Hansen’s Disease Program information:
Phone: 1-800-642-2477

Cardinal Signs & Symptoms

Delayed diagnosis of Hansen’s disease (leprosy) can have serious neurological consequences.  The typical skin lesions and classic neuropathy of leprosy are readily recognized in countries where the disease is more common, but in the U.S., where leprosy is rare, it can be difficult to diagnose.  Physician awareness is key to the early diagnosis and treatment that can prevent disability. 

Consider the diagnosis of leprosy when…
Patient presents with non-responsive skin lesion and is
Immigrant from country with high incidence of leprosy
U.S. resident with history of foreign travel
Resident of Texas or Louisiana
Has referral history of multiple physician/specialist and/or frequent emergency room visits

Cardinal Signs
Localized skin lesions
o Raised or flat
o Light or pigmented
o Sensory loss in lesion
Thickened peripheral nerves
Demonstrated acid-fact bacilli in lesion

Laboratory Test
There are no serological or skin tests.
Skin biopsy needed for definitive diagnosis
PCR for M. leprae DNA may be needed in special circumstances

Patients with Delayed Diagnosis
Because of a delay in diagnosis patients may present for diagnosis of Hansen’s disease who are already undergoing an acute with Reversal or ENL reaction: 
Acute, immunological complications may confuse clinical picture
Acute inflammation of lesions
o Neuritis
o Arthritis
o Acral edema
Such patients often have seen other specialists before dermatologist referral