Mycobacterium lepromatosis as a Second Agent of Hansen’s Disease

Patrícia Deps*, Simon M. Collin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
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Mycobacterium lepromatosis was identified as a new species and second causal agent of Hansen’s disease (HD, or leprosy) in 2008, 150years after the disease was first attributed to Mycobacterium leprae. M. lepromatosis has been implicated in a small number of HD cases, and clinical aspects of HD caused by M. lepromatosis are poorly characterized. HD is a recognized zoonosis through transmission of M. leprae from armadillos, but the role of M. lepromatosis as a zoonotic agent of HD is unknown. M. lepromatosis was initially associated with diffuse lepromatous leprosy, but subsequent case reports and surveys have linked it to other forms of HD. HD caused by M. lepromatosis has been reported from three endemic countries: Brazil, Myanmar, and Philippines, and three non-endemic countries: Mexico, Malaysia, and United States. Contact with armadillos in Mexico was mentioned in 2/21 M. lepromatosis HD case reports since 2008. M. lepromatosis in animals has been investigated only in non-endemic countries, in squirrels and chipmunks in Europe, white-throated woodrats in Mexico, and armadillos in the United States. To date, there have only been a small number of positive findings in Eurasian red squirrels in Britain and Ireland. A single study of environmental samples found no M. lepromatosis in soil from a Scottish red squirrel habitat. Future studies must focus on endemic countries to determine the true proportion of HD cases caused by M. lepromatosis, and whether viable M. lepromatosis occurs in non-human sources.

Original languageEnglish
Article number698588
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
Publication statusPublished - 10 Sep 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

Open Access: This is an open-access article distributed under
the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

Publisher Copyright: © 2021 Deps and Collin.

Citation: Deps, Patrícia, and Simon M. Collin. "Mycobacterium lepromatosis as a Second Agent of Hansen’s Disease." Frontiers in Microbiology (2021): 2531.



  • Hansen’s disease
  • Mycobacterium leprae
  • Mycobacterium lepromatosis
  • leprosy
  • zoonosis


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