Leprosy is one of the oldest maladies and is well recognized in the oldest civilization of China, Egypt and India as a contagious, mutilating and incurable disease. The humans feared it because it resulted in disfigurement and physical disabilities, which are irreversible. Leprosy is also associated with a lot of stigma and in ancient times the community shunned people affected with leprosy into separate leper colonies
Leprosy is believed to have existed in Egypt as long ago as 4000 BC and in India and Japan earlier than 1000 BC. It is also called as the infectious disease of the East. It later spread to Europe and British Isles and by 13th centaury it reached epidemic proportions.