(CTN News) – An increase in leprosy cases in Central Florida, also known as Hansen’s disease, has been reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Almost one-fifth of all reported cases nationwide have been reported from this region, which accounted for 81 percent of all reported cases in Florida.
It has historically been rare in the United States, with a decline in documented cases from the 1980s to 2000. Nevertheless, the incidence has steadily increased since then, with more than double the number of cases reported over the past decade in the Southeast.
The health authorities are puzzled by some cases in Central Florida that do not appear to be associated with traditional risk factors. One male resident has even been reported to have leprosy without any known routes of transmission.
A chronic infectious disease that affects the skin and peripheral nervous system, leprosy spreads through prolonged close contact with untreated patients.
There are a number of symptoms of leprosy, such as discolored patches of skin, thick and dry skin, growths on the skin, loss of eyebrows and eyelashes, muscle weakness or paralysis, and an enlargement of the nerves.
There are serious complications that may arise from untreated psoriasis, such as paralysis, blindness, and foot ulcers, if it remains untreated for a prolonged period of time.
More than 200,000 leprosy cases are reported annually in over 120 countries, according to the World Health Organization. Each year, approximately 150 Americans become infected with the disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Research published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that Florida ranks among the states with the highest number of new leprosy cases.
Dr Nicole Iovine, the chief hospital epidemiologist and infectious disease physician at the University of Florida, emphasized that leprosy is not just an ancient problem, but is now endemic in Central Florida, meaning that it is circulating and present at all times, though at a relatively low prevalence.
In 2020, Florida was the state with the highest number of new cases, followed by California, Louisiana, Hawaii, New York, and Texas.
As of 2020, Brevard County, Florida, has seen the most new cases since 2011 and accounted for over 12% of all new cases in the United States.
According to Dr Iovine, leprosy can manifest in two ways: pigmented lesions on the skin that may be scaly or nodular lesions that may be disfiguring. An important characteristic of leprosy is that it causes the affected area to lose sensation.
A human-to-human transmission of is also possible, although it is uncommon in the United States. Inhalation of aerosolised particles from infected armadillos is a common method of transmission.
Antibiotics can be effective in treating leprosy. To prevent severe complications and control the spread of the disease, early diagnosis and prompt treatment are essential.
If you suspect that you may have contracted leprosy, you should seek medical attention immediately.