A chronic and infectious disease, characterized by patches of altered skin and nerve tissue (lesions) that gradually spread to cause muscle weakness, deformities, and paralysis. Some forms of antibiotics are now used to treat this disease, and plastic surgery can help correct the deformities it causes. Also called Hansen's disease.
Note: Leprosy has been well known since ancient times, when widespread fear of those afflicted with the disease caused them to be treated as outcasts. Today, the term leper is often used to refer to a person excluded from society.