The increasing number of leprosy cases indicates that infectious diseases may be endemic in Florida. According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the cases have doubled in the Southeastern United States. Continue reading to know about the serious disease and why it abruptly arose in Florida.
What Is Leprosy?
Leprosy is a contagion caused by a bacteria called Mycobacterium leprae. It can damage the eyes, skin, mucus membranes, nerves and upper respiratory tract. Leprosy is an ancient disease that was recorded around 600 B.C.Earlier, people with leprosy were quarantined and abandoned for its contagious nature. But in reality, leprosy is not infectious and it can only affect a person if they have close contact with untreated leprosy.
Leprosy mostly affects the skin and peripheral nerves. Other symptoms include
- Skin Lesions
- Muscle weakness
- Insensibility in hands and legs.
Why Leprosy Cases Are Rising in Florida?
Scientists are not sure why the disease is spreading in Florida. Still, they are not sure about the root cause of the transmission of Leprosy. However, scientists believe there are two factors that might be susceptible to this unusual outbreak, either it might have spread through contact with leprosy-affected individuals, or through infected armadillos or visiting the leprosy-endemic locations.
The nine-banded armadillos are prevalent in Florida, the species which carries the dangerous bacteria. However, the affected individuals claim they never had zoonotic exposure. The public authorities were confused because many cases are not linked to armadillos and also some diagnosed cases live where the armadillos did not exist. Health officials think international migration might be one of the contributors to leprosy. Additionally, some contracted persons spent plenty of time outdoors in Florida.
People are at risk of leprosy only if they have prolonged exposure and contact with individuals who have untreated leprosy. If the affected persons take immediate action or precautionary measures they can restrain from contracting others. Following some steps like washing hands before and after the food, and cleaning the skin, hands and nails regularly can minimize the risk of spreading. Keeping this current situation in mind, people should take care of themselves.
Long ago people had many misconceptions about leprosy, thinking it was contagious. But now with the help of healthcare professionals and treatments leprosy is curable. People who are diagnosed with leprosy can lead a normal life during and after the treatment.