Leprosy Outbreak Raises Alarm in Central Florida
Leprosy outbreak raises alarm in Central Florida. Central Florida is now at the forefront of a troublesome trend as leprosy becomes prevalent in the region. Researchers have observed a significant surge in leprosy cases, with Central Florida accounting for a large proportion of all newly reported cases. Among those affected is a 54-year-old man employed in landscaping, whose photos were shared with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to raise awareness about the severity of the disease.
Leprosy, also known as Hansen's disease, doesn’t only include physical discomfort but also carries a heavy societal stigma. Those afflicted with leprosy often face rejection and fear from others, leading to social isolation and emotional distress.
Leprosy According To The CDC
According to a CDC report authored by researchers Aashni Bhukhan, Charles Dunn, and Rajiv Nathoo, Central Florida contributed to about 20% of the 159 leprosy cases reported in the United States in 2020. Even though this number is lower than the 216 cases reported in 2019, health experts remain deeply concerned, given that most of the cases seem to have been contracted locally.
Dr. John Sinnott, Chairman of Internal Medicine at the University of South Florida (USF), issues a warning about the re-emergence of leprosy in the region. Medical professionals are puzzled by the reasons behind this resurgence, leaving them on high alert.
Leprosy is a rare disease with a long history dating back to 600 BC and has rarely been seen in the United States until recently. Historically, most cases were associated with people who had traveled from places where leprosy was already rampant. Due to the requirement of prolonged exposure to an infected person for transmission to occur, leprosy has remained relatively uncommon in the US.
Researchers Made A Discovery In The Leprosy Outbreak
Researchers have made an intriguing discovery regarding a potential link to armadillos. A considerable number of US leprosy patients carry the same strain of the virus found in these animals, suggesting that close encounters with armadillos might be conducive to the rise in leprosy cases.
Dr. Sinnott highlights that around 95% of people are genetically immune to leprosy, providing some reassurance regarding the low risk of infection for most people. However, doctors are advised to remain vigilant and consider leprosy as a possibility when patients present with specific rashes or symptoms.
Early detection is highlighted as a critical factor for effective treatment and the prevention of long-term nerve and limb damage. While leprosy is a curable disease, quick interference is essential to limit its potentially severe consequences.
A Call To Healthcare Professionals
Researchers call upon healthcare professionals in other states to study whether their patients have recently traveled to Florida. While person-to-person transmission is rare, understanding travel patterns may shed light on the current leprosy outbreak and assist in its suppression.
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