The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a warning about the increasing number of leprosy cases in Florida. The agency is concerned that the disease may be becoming endemic in the state.
In 2020, there were 159 new cases of leprosy reported in the United States. Of those, 81% were in Florida. This is a significant increase from the 53 cases reported in Florida in 2010.
The CDC is not sure why the number of leprosy cases in Florida is increasing. However, the agency believes that it may be due to a number of factors, including:
The increasing population of armadillos in Florida. Armadillos are known to carry the bacteria that causes leprosy.
The growing number of people who are traveling to and from areas where leprosy is more common.
The aging population in Florida. Older people are more likely to develop leprosy.
The CDC is urging people to be aware of the symptoms of leprosy, which can include:
Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
Weakness in the muscles
If you think you may have leprosy, it is important to see a doctor right away. Leprosy is a curable disease, but it can be serious if left untreated.
The CDC has also issued some recommendations to help prevent the spread of leprosy, including:
Avoiding contact with armadillos
Washing your hands frequently
Covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze
If you are traveling to an area where leprosy is more common, you should talk to your doctor about getting vaccinated against the disease.
The CDC is working with state and local health departments to monitor the situation in Florida and to develop strategies to prevent the spread of leprosy.