- A dictionary of medical eponyms

Hansen's disease

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A chronic infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium leprae, and characterized by granulomatous lesions of the skin, mucous membranes, peripheral nervous system, and bones. Three types are recognized: tuberculous, lepromatous, and borderline leprosy. Tuberculoid leprosy is manifested by sharply demarcated hypopigmented macules that gradually become elevated and circinate or gyrate.

In an effort to remove the age-old stigma that had marked leprosy and its victims, the term Hansen's disease has been introduced, along with Hansearium to replace leprosarium.

Das Lied des Aussätzigen
Sieh, ich bin einer, den alles verlassen hat.
Keiner weiss in der Stadt von mir,
Aussatz hat mich befallen.
Und ich schlage mein Klapperwerk,
klopfe mein trauriges Augenmerk
in die Ohren allen
die nahe vorübergehn.
Und die es Hölzern hören, sehn
erst gar nich her, und was hier geschehen
wollen sie nicht erfahren.

Soweit der Klang meiner Klappe reicht
bin ich zuhause; aber vielleicht
machst Du meine Klappe so laut,
dass sich keiner in meine Ferne traut
der mir jetzt aus der Nähe weicht.
So dass ich sehr lange gehen kann
ohne Mädchen, Frau oder Mann
oder Kind zu entdecken.

Tiere will ich nicht schrecken.
Rainer Maria Rilke


  • G. Armauer Hansen:
    Indberetning til det Norske medicinske Selskab i Christiania om en med understøttelse af selskabet foretagen reise for at anstille undersøgelser angaaende spedalskhedens aarsager, tildels udførte sammen med forstander Hartwig.
    Norsk Magazin for Lægevidenskaben, 1874, 3 R., 4, 9 Heft, pp 1-88.
    Hansen discovered the leprosy bacillus on February 28, 1873.
    His demonstration of the leprosy bacillus is one of the earliest observations of pathogenic bacteria. For an English translation of the paper, see British and Foreign Medico-Chirurgical Review, London, 1875, 55: 459-489.

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