Science & Tech

Leprosy cases are dramatically rising in the US

Leprosy cases are dramatically rising in the US
Central Florida sees a spike in leprosy
Fox - 5 Atlanta / VideoElephant

Cases of the now-rare disease leprosy are on the rise in certain parts of the United States.

Like leprosy, some ancient diseases like scurvy are making a surprising comeback despite them being curable with relatively easy treatment.

Leprosy is caused by two different types of bacteria – Mycobacterium leprae and Mycobacterium lepromatosis. They are very similar and the latter was only identified in 2008.

It is a tropical disease that has been gaining traction in the US, particularly in the southern state of Florida.

Risk factors are associated with contact with infected animals, in what is known as zoonotic exposure, or having recently lived in countries where the disease is endemic. It is passed from human to human through prolonged in-person contact.

However, some recent cases in the US have not had any zoonotic exposure or person-to-person transmission, meaning the source has become a bit of a mystery.

A report published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that 159 cases of were reported in the US in 2020, with Florida making up 81 per cent of them.

The report read: “This information suggests that leprosy has become an endemic disease process in Florida, warranting further research into other methods of autochthonous transmission.”

The disease is also known as Hansen’s disease and was stigmatised during biblical times when few treatments were available. It causes deformities such as disfigurement to the hands and feet and redness of the skin.

Today the disease is preventable and treatable and it is hoped that early diagnosis and destigmatization will help eradicate it.

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