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A Journal on Dermatology and Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Official Journal of the Italian Society of Dermatology and Sexually Transmitted Diseases
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Giornale Italiano di Dermatologia e Venereologia 2007 February;142(1):49-52

language: English

Hansen’s disease in Piedmont and the Aosta Valley

Noto S. 1, Clapasson A. 1, Di Negro G. 1, Broganelli P.2 , Pippione M. 2, Nunzi E. 1

1 Unit of Social Dermatology and National Centre for Hansen’s Disease, Department of Health Studies, San Martino Hospital, University of Genoa, Genoa, Italy
2 Unit of Syphilodermatous Pathologies 1-3 Department of Dermatology and Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery San Giovani Battista Hospital, Turin, Italy


The Leper’s Tower in Aosta recalls the presence of the disease in north-west Italy at the beginning of the nineteenth century. In 1897, at the First International Leprosy Conference in Berlin, the Italian delegate, Pelizzari, reported 13 cases of leprosy diagnosed by the Department of Dermatology of the University of Turin. In his lecture “Epidemiology and Prophylaxis of Leprosy in Italy” held in 1953, Manca Pastorino reports the presence of leprosy patients in 9 towns in Piedmont; whilst in 1947, patients were reported from 15 towns. In 1977, 16 leprosy cases were reported in Piedmont, 8 of them autochthonous; they were classified as 15 lepromatous and 1 tuberculoid. From 1990 to 2005 the presence of the National Leprosy Referral Centre in Genoa allowed more reliable classifications: out of 8 cases, 6 are borderline and 2 lepromatous. Two of these patients are autochthonous and 6 imported. As in other Italian regions, there is a rise in imported cases; the 2 autochthonous patients originate from Southern Italy. An imported case is presented showing histopathology of borderline tuberculoid (BT) leprosy and a bacillary load compatible with a borderline lepromatous (BL) form, this apparent inconsistency is due to the presence of a type 1 downgrading reaction.

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