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- Acid fast bacillus (AFB) morphologically resembles tubercle bacillus.
- M. leprae seen worldwide, but most common in Asia, Central and South America. Brazil, India, and Indonesia contribute 80% to the global new case load.
- Newly identified species M. lepromatosis sp nov has been proposed as causing disseminated leprosy.
- Slow-growing. Obligate intracellular pathogen, average doubling time ~2 weeks. Cannot culture in microbiology lab.
- Armadillos and immunocompromised mice used to grow M. leprae for research purposes.
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