Sunday, March 29, 2015

An Exploration of Hansen’s Disease aka Leprosy and a $15 Amazon Gift Card

And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean.  Mark 1:40-42 ESV 
A woman with Hansen's disease in Sri Lanka being visited
 by my daughter.
Leprosy is a word we don’t think about much in the western world. Though prevalent in Biblical times it shouldn’t invoke the fear that it did then but the stigma against leprosy lives on in the world today.  As you probably know leprosy causes terrible disfigurement for those who contract the disease and sometimes they even loose fingers, toes, limbs, and suffer nerve damage. A couple years ago my daughter, Meghan, went on a mission trip to Sri Lanka along with others who are active in Youth With A Mission. The major religions in Sri Lanka are Buddhism (69 percent), Hinduism (15 percent), Christianity (8 per cent) and Islam (7 percent). It was the first time I’d ever really thought about what leprosy is like in modern times. Wasn’t there a cure for it today?

Meghan explained that those who have Hansen’s Disease at the colony (there were approximately
fifty) she visited were very happy to see people who were not afraid of them and who were willing to pray with them. Her team also played music for them and the women loved to dance. You'll see more pictures of Meghan and the residents living in the colony throughout this post. It’s hard to imagine how isolated these people are from the rest of society. They face discrimination throughout the world and at least twenty countries refuse to permit them to travel, marry, or work. More on that subject can be found here.

Leprosy remains endemic in poorer parts of the world. In 2006 there were approximately 260000 new cases reported world wide. India currently has about 54% of all the new leprosy cases in the world, followed by Brazil with about 17%, then Indonesia with about 7%. Other countries reporting more than 1000 new cases in 2006 include: Angola, Bangladesh, China, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Myanmar, Nepal, Nigeria, The Philippines, Sri Lanka and Tanzania.
When I decided to write this blog post and began my research I immediately found Neil White’s memoir called, In the Sanctuary of Outcasts. This amazing book takes you to Carville, Louisiana where I discovered there was a Federal Medical Center that housed federal prisoners with residents who suffered from Hansen’s Disease also known as leprosy. In my ignorance I didn’t think leprosy existed any longer in America. 
An article on WebMD states, “Today, about 180,000 people worldwide are infected with leprosy, according to the World Health Organization, most of them in Africa and Asia. About 200 people are diagnosed with leprosy in the U.S. every year, mostly in the South, California, Hawaii, and some U.S. territories.”   And the CDC reports that it is now easily treatable with combined use of antibiotics.

From the CDC:  
The bacteria that cause Hansen's disease grow very slowly. It may take 2-10 years before signs and symptoms appear.
Symptoms mainly affect the skin, nerves, and mucous membranes (the soft, moist areas just inside the body's openings).
The disease can cause:
•Skin lesions that may be faded/discolored
•Growths on the skin
•Thick, stiff or dry skin
•Severe pain
•Numbness on affected areas of the skin
•Muscle weakness or paralysis (especially in the hands and feet)

•Eye problems that may lead to blindness
•Enlarged nerves (especially those around the elbow and knee)
•A stuffy nose
•Nosebleeds
•Ulcers on the soles of feet
Since Hansen’s disease affects the nerves, loss of feeling or sensation can occur.
The CDC offers information about many diseases including leprosy. Here’s a link 

In Chapter One of Neil White’s memoir he states, “Through the windows I saw a man limping in the hallway. He stopped at the last arched window … He was a small black man wearing a gentleman’s hat. Through the screen his face looked almost flat. … I waved. He waved back, but something was wrong with his hand. He had no fingers.”

 I encourage you to read more about Neil’s amazing journey as he enters Carville as a federal convict and learns to love his fellow residents who suffer with Hansen’s Disease. Here’s a link to his book.

Carville is now used as a camp for high risk youth.
 
Secrets of the Heart by Jillian KentI’m giving away a $15 Amazon gift card as a way of spreading a little joy. Today is Palm Sunday, leave a comment regarding something you’ve learned from this post or the links provided or some experience or knowledge you have pertaining to Hansen’s disease and you will be eligible to win.

 I’ll pick the winner via Random.org on Saturday, April 4th prior to Easter Sunday. All comments must be in by midnight Pacific Time(in order to win) on Friday April 3rd . A little gift for your Easter basket.  Please join me in praying for those affected throughout the world with Hansen’s disease.
 



 

46 comments:

  1. Thank you, Jillian , for this most interesting post. I was not aware that Hansen's disease still has such a stigma attached to it. I cannot imagine how thrilled the people were to see visitors and hear their music. Joy was brought to them that day.

    mauback55 at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Melanie,
      The stigma that continues in this day is so sad. Yet there is hope that will change.

      Delete
  2. I was totally unaware of how many people are affected. You never hear about this at all.

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Mary,
      It's amazing how much Hansen's Disease is not talked about.

      Delete
  3. Very interesting post. I never knew have many were affected in the world as well as in certain regions in the U.S.

    Janella

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Janella,
      It's amazing how many are still affected today. Thanks for stopping by to read this post.

      Delete
  4. I didn't realize that leprosy existed in such a large quantity today or that it is so disfiguring. This article has been quite an eye-opener for me. Thank you so much for the information.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Loraine,
      Glad you stopped by today. It's awful what this disease does to the body.

      Delete
  5. I didn't know leprosy was still a serious disease these days. Thanks for the information.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Campbellamyd at gmail dot com

      Delete
    2. Hi Amy,
      Isn't it amazing that a disease cured by antibiotics is still so devastating for those who contract it? Thanks for joining me today.

      Delete
  6. I was surprised that so much leprosy still exists today. It saddens me to hear how isolated they all feel.
    Thank you for sharing
    Connie
    cps1950 at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hi Connie,
    Thanks for joining the conversation. The world has a long way to go yet in healing this disease.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I didn't realize Leprosy still existed. I was so glad to hear that it is now easily treatable with combined use of antibiotics.
    Thank you for this informative post..
    dkstevensne AToutlookD otCo M

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Deanna,
      Treatable and yet the disease takes it's toll in so many ways.

      Delete
  9. Thanks so much for your research into leprosy. I have heard of it, of course, in the Bible but somehow I guess I figured it wasn't really around anymore. Now I know and am grateful it can be treated with antibiotics.
    bettimace at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Betti,
      Thanks for your comments. Antibiotics can do so much!

      Delete
  10. We don't hear much about Leprosy today, glad to know that it is treatable!

    pattymh2000(at)yahoo(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  11. I too am amazed that the disease is still around since it is caused by a slow moving bacteria. I can't imagine the isolation of today or of Jesus time. I just finished the Well by Stephanie Landsem and she portrays the lepers boldly moving to find Jesus (they must find him in The Thief! I hope!). What a miracle it was to be healed and whole. He does that for us in our souls and with medications for our bodies. I also was amazed to she her touching them since for so long we thought they shouldn't be touched. I know hugging-giving and receiving is powerful. Thanks for all the research and for sharing more so we can study and help dispel myths. Thanks for the opportunity to win too! Happy Palm Sunday as we journey to the Cross and the Open Grave! Blessings. chris_davebures@bellsouth.net

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Chris,
      Thanks for sharing the information about Stephanie Landsem's book. I'll have to look it up. Amazing what touch can do. Thank you for your thoughtful comments.

      Delete
  12. Jillian, first of all God bless your daughter. What an amazing child. You must be so proud! Then, my husband and I have visited india several times and I too, was surprised to see the lepers on the streets. Very sad.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Holly,
      My Meghan is an amazing missionary, always spreading smiles. Of course being her mom I'm very proud of her.:) I've never been to India. Do you know if those affected with leprosy on the streets have access to antibiotics? And how are they treated by other people? Thanks for sharing.

      Delete
  13. Interesting article. I was born and raised in Nigeria, where leprosy was prevalent. I remember that one of the missionary ladies contracted leprosy. sm wileygreen1(at)yahoo(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Sharon,
      My guess is the missionary was there for a long time, around those who had not yet been treated. It takes a long time for they disease to show itself and is caused by infected respiratory droplets, person to person contact. Thank you for sharing that, Sharon.

      Delete
  14. I think leprosy is something that is associated with the poor. I didn't realize it was treatable. That is reassuring.
    bcrug(at)myfairpoint(dot)net

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Connie,
      Where people cannot get treatment and there is difficulty diagnosing the problem typically people are poor. Here's a link that may be of interest to you. http://blogs.msf.org/en/staff/blogs/lauralee-in-lankien/leprosy-diseases-of-poverty-and-breaking-the-rules

      Delete
  15. It is sad to think there are so many diseases that can be cured or prevented, if people have access to the correct medicine or preventive measures. I was very interested to learn that as soon as leprosy patients start treatment, they are no longer able to spread the disease. I know you are so proud of your daughter. You are blessed.
    may_dayzee [at] yahoo [dot] com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Kay,
      Getting that access to medicine is key and then dealing with stigma. I am a very proud mama. :) Thanks!

      Delete
  16. Great article, Jillian - I've been waiting on this post after our emails. Your daughter is very special, and I enjoyed Neil White's book so much. What a terrible disease. Praise God there are treatments now, but sad that they are not always available in foreign lands where the disease still strikes. Loved the post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Carla,
      Glad you enjoyed the post. I love Neil's book. Haven't finished it yet. So glad you let me know that you had met him at the book signing. Hopefully, some day this disease will be completely eradicated.

      Delete
  17. When we lived in Jakarta, Indonesia, I worked with the charity group of American Women's Association. Several of us went (at our own expense) to a leprosaurium and talked with lepers and their care givers. They had no well, and had to walk a mile and a half for drinking water. Cleanliness is essential to care for leprosy. In fact, lack of cleanliness is a major contributor to the disease. AWA helped them get their own well. For me, it was one of the most satisfying projects we worked on. [Not an entry for the $15 gift.]

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Lee,
      That's an incredible experience. How wonderful to be part of helping those affected get their own well. That had to have made a huge difference in their lives. Thanks for sharing that story.

      Delete
  18. I enjoyed reading this post and thought it was very interesting and informative. I've always associated leprosy with Bible times. It is a disease that you don't hear about much anymore I'm glad that there is hope for the people who have it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi rubynreba,
      Thanks for stopping by. Yes, I think many people associate leprosy with Biblical times and don't even realize it's still out there.

      Delete
  19. I enjoyed reading this post and thought it was very interesting and informative. I've always associated leprosy with Bible times. It is a disease that you don't hear about much anymore I'm glad that there is hope for the people who have it.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I know leprosy was spoken of hugely in the Bible, but didn't realize it was still so prevalent today. Thank you for sharing with us and educating us more on this!
    lattebooks at hotmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Susan,
      Appreciate your kind words.

      Delete
  21. I didn't know it was still around either- I thought it had gone away with many of the major diseases from older days. I'm glad it's treatable with antibiotics.

    colorvibrant at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Heidi,
      Imagine what a mess we would still be in today without antibiotics. Let's hope they never lose their effectiveness.

      Delete
  22. Hi Jillian! Thanks for such an interesting post - you have a very beautiful daughter! I knew that leprosy still existed, I just didn't think it did in America. I just assumed it was only in third world countries. I can't imagine living so isolated from others as the people your daughter met in Sri Lanka, it breaks my heart.
    kam110476 at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Kam,
      Thanks for your sweet words. I think the isolation would be awful and I'm sure depression runs rampant.

      Delete
  23. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I had heard of leprosy but not the formal name Hansen's disease. Thanks for bringing to light this little talked of disease

    fencingromein at hotmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Shannon,
      Thought you and some others might be interested in this question.

      Q: Why is leprosy also called Hansen’s disease?

      A: The medical name for leprosy is Hansen’s disease. Norwegian doctor Armauer Hansen was the first to view the bacillus under a microscope in 1873.

      More here:http://www.leprosy.org/about-us/

      Delete
    2. Hi Everyone! Thank you so much for joining me in this conversation about Hansen's Disease. Please pray that this disease will be eradicated and for peace for those who suffer with it. The winner of the Amazon gift card is Loraine Nunley.
      May you all have a blessed Easter.

      Delete