It’s time to tell your friends, family, or even yourself to pack up the bags and get out of Florida. From the state that brought us bath salts, giant alligators and snakes, and a crushing summer (and year-round) heat comes a very new yet old concern – leprosy. According to ScienceAlert, the disease, which some may recognize from its Biblical context, is on the rise in the south-eastern United States with the most recent case being diagnosed in a 54-year-old Florida man.
Cases of leprosy are on the rise in Florida.
Just when we thought we were escaping the years that COVID took from our social, mental, and emotional lives, this ancient disease is on the rise, giving us another reason to stay indoors and away from humans.
The leprosy news comes just weeks following reports from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that the US is facing the first cases of locally-acquired malaria in two decades. Unsurprisingly, four of these malaria discoveries were found in Florida.
While it may come as a shock, leprosy cases have actually been on the rise in the United States’ southern states since 2000, a statistic that points to the resurgence of the affliction long thought lost to the chapters of time. The bad news for those living in The Sunshine State is that the central areas currently account for close to one-fifth of the cases in the country.
But, they aren’t alone in their breakouts as more than 120 countries around the world are dealing with the curable bacterial infectious disease which is also known as Hansen’s disease.
A disease that primarily attacks the skin, leprosy appears to those afflicted in dry patches of skin, growths on the skin, painful ulcers on the bottoms of feet, swelling or lumps on the face or earlobes which tend to be painless, and a loss of eyebrows or eyelashes.
Leprosy cases have actually been on the rise in the United States’ southern states since 2000, a statistic that points to the resurgence of the affliction long thought lost to the chapters of time.
The bacterial infection can also go after nerves and mucous membranes leading to symptoms that include numbness around the skin areas affected and stuffy nose and nosebleeds. If left untreated, those suffering could eventually be paralyzed in the hands and feet, suffer from nose disfigurement, and even blindness.
As far as how one picks up leprosy, the leading cause is by being around someone with the disease as it travels through droplets coming from the nose and mouth. Astonishingly, animals such as nine-banded armadillos are also carriers of the disease which could be why Florida is seeing such a breakout in leprosy cases as the hard-shelled mammal can be found living in the south.
The leprosy news comes just weeks following reports from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that the US is facing the first cases of locally-acquired malaria in two decades.
In the case of the 54-year-old Florida man, a lifelong resident of the state, he’s unsure how he acquired the illness, telling those at the hospital that he hadn’t been traveling, in close quarters with anyone already with the disease, and hadn’t come into contact with any armadillos.
With local malaria and leprosy now something extra we need to worry about – or at least those living or traveling to the southern states – we can now add the disease to a long list of reasons to avoid Florida altogether.