• Kyodo

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A public elementary school teacher in Fukuoka mistakenly taught his students that leprosy melts the body and is as infectious as the flu, the prefectural education board said Friday.

The teacher’s comments last November led some students to write to a leprosy sanatorium a month later expressing their fears about the disease, the board said. It apologized to the sanatorium in April.

Leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease, is a bacterial infection that mainly affects the skin and peripheral nerves. It can result in permanent disability if it goes untreated.

The disease is curable with drugs and is far less contagious than other infectious diseases.

Until 1996, Japanese law required persons diagnosed with leprosy to be isolated in sanatoriums, even though there were no medical grounds for this.