Leprosy in India, 1930s. Footage of a patient who has been blinded by leprosy. Leprosy is a neurological disease caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium leprae. The damage to the nerves leads to disfiguring skin lesions and deformities, as shown here. Historically, it was thought that leprosy was contagious. This, and the stigma associated with the disease, meant lepers were shunned and forced to live in quarantine in leper colonies. Cases have declined as the disease can be treated with a multidrug therapy, but India remains one of the countries with many cases of leprosy. This clip is from a 20th-century German film, made in the Albert Victoria Hospital in what was then Calcutta (Kolkata), in around 1930.