“Leprosy Cases on the Rise in Florida: Concerns for Identified Victim and Local Population”

By | August 2, 2023

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A new report reveals that leprosy, or Hansen’s disease, may be endemic in Florida. Cases have doubled in the southwest region of America over the past decade, with Central Florida having a disproportionate number of cases. A specific case highlights the disease’s presence in the local population. Leprosy can be transmitted through droplets from coughs or sneezes and prolonged contact with an infected person. It is treatable with antibiotics, but if left untreated, it can lead to paralysis and blindness. Public education and improved access to healthcare services are crucial in controlling its spread. UK Snack Attack reported

New Report Suggests Leprosy May be Endemic in Florida

A recent report published in the US-based Emerging Infectious Diseases journal has raised concerns about the prevalence of leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease, in the state of Florida. The report reveals that leprosy cases in the southwest region of America have doubled over the past decade.

Of particular concern is Central Florida, where there is a disproportionately high number of leprosy cases. This indicates that the disease has a consistent presence in the local population rather than occurring sporadically in isolated outbreaks. In 2020, the National Hansen’s Disease Program reported 159 new cases in the US, with Florida being one of the states with the highest number of cases. Central Florida alone accounted for 81% of cases in the state and nearly one-fifth of cases reported nationwide.

One case highlighted in the report involves a 54-year-old landscaper who contracted leprosy despite having no known contact with infected animals or individuals and not having traveled to countries where the disease is typically found. NBC News reports that there have been 15 cases of leprosy in Florida in 2023, with the majority occurring in Brevard County, home to Port Canaveral and the renowned Kennedy Space Center.

Dr. Nicole Iovine, chief hospital epidemiologist and infectious disease physician at the University of Florida, explained that leprosy can present as a rash with pigmented, scaly lesions, as well as disfigurement on the face and hands. Unlike a typical itchy rash, the lesions caused by leprosy are often unable to be felt due to nerve damage.

The exact mechanisms of leprosy transmission are not fully understood, but scientists believe that the bacteria responsible for the disease can be transmitted through coughs or sneezes and prolonged contact with an infected person. There is also evidence to suggest that contact with armadillos, which naturally carry the leprosy-causing bacteria, can result in infection.

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Leprosy is a treatable condition, typically requiring antibiotics for treatment. However, if left untreated, it can lead to paralysis and blindness. It is crucial for healthcare authorities in Florida to address the growing number of leprosy cases and implement measures to prevent further transmission. Public education and awareness campaigns, along with improved access to healthcare services, may play a vital role in controlling the spread of this potentially debilitating disease.

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