Health officials have reported three cases of leprosy this week in Volusia County, Florida. Brevard County, situated nearby, has recorded about 18 cases over the past five years. Brevard County Department of Health epidemiologist Barry Inman says that although the situation is not calamitous yet, the authorities are investigating the issue. As compared to previous decades, the number of cases in recent years has increased.
Leprosy is hard to track owing to the long incubation period of the bacteria, which can last for even 20 years. Armadillo is known to be the carrier of the disease and thus people have been recommended to avoid interaction with armadillos. Symptoms of leprosy include skin lesions which may fade out or become discolored, dry or thick skin and numbness in infected areas. The disease can also lead to ulcers on the sole of the feet, muscle weakness and paralysis. Although the disease can be treated with the help of modern antibiotics, the duration of treatment may stretch up to two years. Leprosy is transmitted through droplets from nose and mouth and also through close contact with an infected person. Leprosy damages the tissues over time which leads to disfigurement of skin, cartilage and bones.
The World Health Organization states that in 2012 there were 189,018 known cases and 232,857 new cases diagnosed worldwide. Leprosy can be prominently traced in Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Madagascar, Burma, Nepal, Nigeria, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Tanzania and all of them report about 1,000 cases each year. According to the reports of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 100 new cases of leprosy are recorded each year in the U.S. and most of them are diagnosed in Texas, Louisiana and Florida. Between the years 1994 and 2011, more than 2,300 new cases of leprosy were diagnosed in the U.S.