CDC study finds leprosy cases on the rise in Florida

Written by on August 1, 2023

The CDC has issued a travel advisory for the State of Florida due to an increase in cases of leprosy. Central Florida accounts for 20% of National leprosy cases, according to the CDC.

What is Leprosy?

Leprosy, also known as Hansen’s Disease, is an ancient bacterial disease that attacks the skin and nerves. Caused by the Mycobacterium leprae bacteria, this disease causes nerves to become swollen under the skin, causing numbness and loss of sensation.

“This can cause the affected areas to lose the ability to sense touch and pain, which can lead to injuries like cuts and burns. Usually, the affected skin changes color,” explains the CDC website. In advanced cases, the disease can cause loss of fingers or toes. The disease is rare in the United States. Only 139 cases were documented in the US in 2020, but 31 of those cases were in Florida. Central Florida accounts for the majority of Florida’s cases.

The cause of most cases can be found through contact tracing to either armadillos or others infected and untreated with Leprosy.

However, these cases in Florida are had inconclusive contact tracing results, and now scientists are theorizing this could be linked to bacteria in the soil.

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