Florida was heavily in the news cycle about two months ago as the 9th case of leprosy was confirmed in a Flagler County resident. Now, Michigan media are reporting a leprosy case in a man, who is described as a frequent visitor to the Sunshine State.
Dr. Frank McGeorge explained the association with the nine-banded armadillo found in Florida, Louisiana and Texas where as many as 20 percent of armadillos carry Mycobacterium leprae, the etiologic agent that causes leprosy. “Armadillos likely acquired it when colonists came to America”, McGeorge stated.
In an interview with University of Michigan dermatologist, Dr. Trilokraj Tejasvi noted, “They eat it by cooking it and even barbeque, I suppose. It’s not a great thing to do.”
The Michigan resident who was diagnosed with leprosy has been seen by multiple doctors for three years before a skin sample analyzed revealed leprosy.
The United States sees approximately 150 to 250 leprosy cases annually.
During the ten-year-period of 2004 to 2014, Florida reported 92 cases, averaging less than 10 per year.
Leprosy is a chronic bacterial disease that primarily affects the skin, peripheral nerves and upper airway. Feared as a highly contagious and devastating disease, it is well established that Hansen’s disease (leprosy) is not highly transmissible, is very treatable, and, with early diagnosis and treatment, is not disabling.
Robert Herriman is a microbiologist and the Editor-in-Chief of Outbreak News Today