This section is from the book "The Home Hand-Book of Domestic Hygiene and Rational Medicine. Volume 2.", by J. H. Kellogg, M.D.. Also available from Amazon: The Home Hand-Book of Domestic Hygiene and Rational Medicine, Volume 2.
There are two varieties of this disease, one known as elephantiasis arabum, the other, elephantiasis Groeorum. The latter disease is that more commonly known as leprosy. The first mentioned disease consists in a chronic enlargement of some portion of the body. The part most likely to be affected is the leg, which becomes thickened and clumsy, sometimes to such a degree as to render the patient weary of life. The principal seat of the disease seems to be the skin. There is considerable pain in the affected part, the skin of which may be either smooth or ulcerated. Next in frequency to the legs, the genital organs are affected, sometimes attaining an enormous size. The nose is a frequent seat of the disease in spirit drinkers, sometimes attaining mammoth proportions. This disease is sometimes called elephant-leg or barbadoes leg.
In true leprosy, three classes of symptoms appear: 1. Discoloration of the skin, which acquires, in spots, a light coffee hue; 2. A deposit in the skin of tubercles of a dull red color; 3. Loss of sensation in certain parts, particularly in the extremities, due to disease of the trunks.
The thickening of the skin chiefly occurs about the eyebrows, cheeks, forehead, and nose, giving to the patient a very singular appearance. The hands are frequently distorted, the fingers being contracted, giving to them a claw-like appearance. After some years, the tubercles ulcerate, causing gangrene of some parts of the body, especially the fingers and toes. Loathsome odors emanate from the body. This disease is sometimes imported to this country; and Dr. Bulkley. of New York, claims to have observed cases in that city which originated there.
There is little chance for effecting a cure in either of these maladies. In some cases of elephantiasis Arabrum confined to a single part of the body, amputation has been sometimes performed with advantage. Two remedies, one known as gurjun oil, and a more recent one, chaulmoogra, are much used in India for leprosy, and are said to have been effective in curing a number of cases. Improved dietetic and hygienic conditions are especially important in the treatment of leprosy, since it has been found to occur more frequently in badly-fed persons, and those surrounded by unsanitary conditions. The use of salt meats is said to favor the production of the disease, which indicates that all foods of this kind should be avoided as much as possible. A recent writer suggests that the use of partially decomposed flesh, which is common in some portions of the countries where leprosy originates, may be the cause of this dreadful disease.