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Thursday 3 August 2023

Florida battling bizarre wave of leprosy infections

Leprosy is making a comeback - in Florida of all places.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US this week issued a warning over the growing number of leprosy cases in Florida, particularly in Brevard County. 

Their report says leprosy - also known as Hansen’s Disease - could be endemic in Central Florida.

The last full year of data was 2020 when there were 159 new cases nationwide

Almost 20% of those cases were in Central Florida.

The data points to "mounting epidemiological evidence supporting leprosy as an endemic process in the south-eastern United States".

“Travel to this area, even in the absence of other risk factors, should prompt consideration of leprosy in the appropriate clinical context,” the CDC said.

There have been 15 cases of leprosy in Florida this year, the majority of which were in Brevard County.

Leprosy is spread by moisture droplets carried through the air, Travel Mole reports.

The disease affects the skin and peripheral nerves.

The CDC suggests "environmental reservoirs as a potential source of transmission".

Although leprosy brings up connotations of severe skin lesions and the stigma of leper colonies, as in the distant past, it is now fully curable with the right medication.

Although leprosy can spread person to person, it's not known precisely how, NBC reported.

The disease does not spread through casual physical contact like shaking hands or sitting next to a person on the bus, the CDC says.

Rather, scientists' current thinking is that the bacteria gets transmitted via droplets from an infected person's coughs or sneezes during a prolonged period of close contact.

Contact with armadillos, some of which are naturally infected by leprosy-causing bacteria, may be another way people can get sick.

So stay away from those armadillos people.

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