"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Leprosy in Florida: How Concerned Should We Be?

The media frenzy surrounding the leprosy outbreak within the United States a number of weeks ago drew attention to the continued heat and extreme weather that poses a greater threat to most of us. But does one case of an individual with leprosy in central Florida suggest that anyone can get leprosy anywhere within the United States? Could this turn into the subsequent pandemic? How apprehensive should we be?

Read on to set the record straight about leprosy. (Spoiler alert: Armadillos will likely be mentioned.)

Why made the news of leprosy?

In August, a case of leprosy in central Florida was described In the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases. The report was widely covered by the news media, including “CDC Confirms Florida Leprosy Outbreak: What to Know If You're Traveling to the State” (WKYC) and “Central Florida a Hot Spot for Leprosy “Yes,” the report said. (CNN)

One reason for concern from experts was the undeniable fact that the person diagnosed had no identifiable risk aspects for the disease. That is, he had not traveled to a spot where leprosy was common and had no contact with anyone affected by the disease. Past research has suggested. The organism that causes leprosy can survive in soil.. And this raised the chance that the person's work as a landscaper put him liable to leprosy.

What is leprosy?

Leprosy, or Hansen's disease, is a chronic infection brought on by Mycobacterium leprae. Bacteria (This is a detailed relative of the organism that causes tuberculosis.) This Ancient diseasewhich affects the skin, nerves, and lining of the eyes and upper respiratory tract, is described in among the oldest human writings (including the Old Testament), and genetically identified in archaeological stays dating back to 2000 BC has been done

Common symptoms of leprosy include:

  • Red and/or thick patches on the skin
  • Loss of sensation, numbness, or weakness within the hands or feet
  • Sores, blisters and cracks within the skin of the hands or feet that don’t heal.

If left untreated, it could actually result in skin disorders. Surgical excision could also be needed to manage skin ulcers that don’t heal or are chronically infected.

How is leprosy spread?

Typically, the infection spreads from individual to individual through shared respiratory droplets during prolonged, close contact. A cough or sneeze, for instance, can release respiratory droplets, which might be inhaled by bystanders.

Some cases of leprosy Associated with animal contactequivalent to the nine-banded armadillo and the Eurasian red squirrel.

However, in about one-third of cases, no clear risk factor might be identified.

How common is leprosy?

For most individuals in America, leprosy shouldn’t be a serious health problem. In recent years, About 180 cases of leprosy are diagnosed annually.. Although this represents a rise of lower than 100 cases in 1999 and 2000, the disease stays rare within the United States.

Around the world, it's a unique story: based on the World Health Organization, Over 200,000 cases in 120 countries is evaluated yearly. Most cases are in Brazil, India and Indonesia.

Is leprosy common in Florida?

No. Florida has had about 20 cases per 12 months since 2015. As is true nationally, this represents a rise from previous years.

But some experts speculate that leprosy may now be endemic to Central Florida, where about 80% of the state's cases are diagnosed. Endemic implies that there are enough sources of infection (equivalent to infected people or animals) in a selected area to permit the disease to spread, even when no latest cases appear elsewhere.

Since some infected people should not in danger for the disease, it is feasible that leprosy has turn into localized. But this stays unproven.

Myth vs. Truth: Common Misconceptions About Leprosy

Misconceptions fuel stigma and discrimination against individuals with leprosy. You can have heard a few of these lies.

Myth: Leprosy is incredibly easy to spread. In the past, this myth led to the isolation of lepers in “leper colonies” that quarantined entire communities of infected people.

Facts: About 95 percent of individuals are naturally protected against leprosy.. And, since the spread of the infection between people requires close and prolonged contact, it shouldn’t be as contagious as other infections. So it shouldn’t be easily spread by being in a room with or touching an infected person. And, inside per week of treatment (see below), an individual with leprosy isn’t any longer contagious. As a result, isolation from others is unnecessary.

Myth: Leprosy causes parts of the body to fall off, equivalent to fingers, ears or nose.

Facts: Body parts don’t fall off. Surgical amputation is usually required to treat non-healing wounds and infections, two complications of leprosy-related nerve damage.

Myth: There isn’t any cure for leprosy.

Facts: There are effective antibiotics for leprosy. To treat the infection, people may have to take a mixture of various antibiotics for a 12 months or more.

The bottom line

Some of the news coverage of the leprosy case in Florida seems overly serious. In fact, the chance of a leprosy outbreak in central Florida, or anywhere else within the US, is incredibly low.

And it is very unlikely that leprosy will turn into the subsequent epidemic. However, some experts predict this. Vulnerable populations in AmericaFor example, homeless people living in close contact with poor hygiene and inadequate medical care may experience future outbreaks of leprosy.

Although the chance seems low now, it's a great idea to think about leprosy if you could have an unexplained rash or nerve damage, especially for those who live in an area where the disease is common or for those who've had an infected person. The person has been contacted. Otherwise, leprosy has little reason to be in your short list of health concerns.

Follow me on Twitter. @RobShmerling