Leprosy is a disease that has been around since ancient times. It has even been recorded in the Bible. However, in this modern age, it is still a health problem that we humans hadn’t managed to eradicate. And even now, leprosy cases continue to be recorded in the United States.
Leprosy is a disease caused by the Mycobacterium Leprae, which can be transmitted via droplets from an infected person to a healthy one. This method of infection makes the disease highly contagious, and the symptoms become more drastic over time.
The symptoms of leprosy are easy to spot, because the bacteria that carries it causes skin lesions to appear, and in more severe cases, affects the nerves from any part of the body. Because of these things, lepers, or those infected with leprosy, have always been stigmatized and discriminated against. In the past, societies even made whole island leper colonies to isolate them.
But nowadays, leprosy remains a very real threat. Vaccination drives have been imposed but it’s not enough to completely quell the disease.
In 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 159 cases of leprosy in the United States. Based on the data they have, they warned that the bacteria carrying the disease might be endemic in Florida. Central Florida, in particular, seems to be the hotbed of the disease. The CDC reports that around 81% of the cases in the whole state were discovered in Central Florida. What’s more alarming is that around 34% of the cases reported over a five-year period from 2015-2020 were contracted locally.
“The absence of traditional risk factors in many recent cases of leprosy in Florida, coupled with the high proportion of residents, like our patient, who spend a great deal of time outdoors, supports the investigation into environmental reservoirs as a potential source of transmission,” The CDC stated after investigation on a patient found that he had no long-term contact with people from outside the locale.
There is Hope For Leprosy Cases
Although leprosy is extremely contagious and deadly, advancements in medicine have been made and are constantly being developed. The symptoms can now be treated with the right diagnosis and immediate discovery.
Vaccination drives against the disease have also been around for a few decades now. However, with the rise of anti-vaxxers in the country, this could still be a problem.
Leprosy cases are very treatable nowadays, but prevention is still better than cure. If we are all careful with our health, there is no reason at all to contract the disease. As children, we can all be vaccinated against the bacteria carrying it from a young age. The reemergence of cases especially in the southeastern part of the country is cause for concern for the CDC, however.
Vaccines and medicine against the disease are important. The more people are vaccinated against it, the lesser we can contract it as a population. However, if we ever get in contact with the bacteria, immediate medical attention is our lifeline and our responsibility.