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The diagnosis of leprosy is essentially a clinical one. Highly suggestive of the disease is the finding of acid- fast bacilli in smears from the skin or nasal mucosa.

Definitive diagnosis is established by cultivating the organisms in the foot-pads of mice or armadillo. This is both time consuming and expensive. The polymerase chain reaction can provide a rapid and sensitive screen for Mycobacterium leprae, but it is not widely available.

Last reviewed 01/2018