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Is leprosy on the rise in Florida?

Florida In recent years, the United States has seen a steady rise in leprosy, especially in Florida. Last year, there were 159 new cases of leprosy in the U.S.

Also known as Hansen’s disease, leprosy is a chronic infectious disease that attacks the skin and nerves.

In 2020, around a fifth of cases were in the Sunshine State, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of the Florida cases, 81% were found in the central part of the state.

Cases in the southeastern states have nearly doubled over the last decade, according to the report.

But for most Americans, the disease isn’t a major health concern.

That said, the number of infections across the country has more than doubled during the past decade. Globally, about 200,000 cases of the disease occur every year in 120 countries, according to the World Health Organization. 

Many of those cases were associated with contact with nine-banded armadillos, which can carry the bacteria that causes the disease. 

Just The Facts

  • Most cases of leprosy in America affect people who travel to countries with high rates of disease like Brazil, India, and Indonesia or who are exposed to armadillos that carry the disease.
  • The disease isn’t transmitted through casual contact. It is spread through prolonged close contact with someone who has untreated leprosy for months, according to the CDC.
  • About 95% of people aren’t susceptible to the infection since their immune systems are genetically programmed to resist it.
  • Leprosy can be cured. Treatment with antibiotics is highly effective, but early diagnosis is key to a smooth recovery.


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