Mycobacterium leprae PCR

Diagnostic Use

Leprosy (also known Hansen's disease) is a chronic infectious disease which is caused by Mycobacterium leprae and is an important global health concern. The disease affects the skin, the peripheral nerves, mucosa of the upper respiratory tract, and the eyes. Leprosy is curable and treatment in the early stages can minimize the likelihood of disability involving the eyes, hands, and feet due to neuropathy as these are often not reversible and may require lifelong care. Apart from the physical deformity, persons affected by leprosy also face stigmatization and discrimination.

The disease is transmitted through droplets from the nose and mouth. Prolonged, close contact over months with someone with untreated leprosy is needed to catch the disease. The disease is not spread through casual contact with a person who has leprosy like shaking hands or hugging, sharing meals, or sitting next to each other. Moreover, the patient stops transmitting the disease when they begin treatment.

The disease manifests commonly through skin lesion and peripheral nerve involvement. Leprosy is diagnosed by finding at least one of the following cardinal signs: (1) definite loss of sensation in a pale (hypopigmented) or reddish skin patch; (2) thickened or enlarged peripheral nerve, with loss of sensation and/or weakness of the muscles supplied by that nerve; (3) microscopic detection of bacilli in a slit-skin smear.

M. leprae is difficult to culture; PCR provides a faster and more reliable detection method.

Sources: Up-to-Date Leprosy: Epidemiology, microbiology, clinical manifestations, and diagnosis
WHO Leprosy fact sheet


Microbiology - Virology

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Laboratory Handling


Testing is batched daily on routine weekdays at approximately 9.30am, with results available from mid-afternoon.

Test Adds

Add-ons can be made if an appropriate sample has already been received for other bacteriology or PCR testing. Please call Virology to discuss.


Hansen's disease
M. leprae PCR

Turnaround Time

3 days

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