On Friday, Jul. 24, the Florida Department of Health released a Q & A informational video about Hansen’s disease, or leprosy, in light of all the media attention surrounding cases reported in the state.

I inquired with the health department about Deputy State Epidemiologist Dr. Carina Blackmore’s statement about a “unique” strain in armadillos.

In an email to Outbreak News Today Monday, Florida Department of Health Press Secretary, Mara Burger writes:  “There is a particular strain of Hansen’s disease identified in people in the Southeastern U.S. that has also been identified in armadillos in the same region.” Still questions remain what makes this strain of the mycobacterium unique.

Another issue brought up by this website is the actual number of cases reported in the state. As reported Saturday, I point out that data from communicable disease cases reportable by law to the Florida Department of Health put the case count at 12 in Florida as opposed to the nine reported in a press release Friday.

However, Press Secretary Burger provided better clarification on this issue. She notes:

The number you pulled from the Florida Department of Health Communicable Disease Frequency Report lists the total number of suspected cases as reported by county health departments to the state office. County health departments are encouraged to report so that cases can be further reviewed. The cases are then reviewed by the state office to determine if they meet the case definition for Hansen’s disease as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The difference is whether a case is confirmed or suspected. Florida has nine confirmed cases of Hansen’s disease.

To date, Florida has 9 confirmed leprosy cases and the 3 cases from North Fort Myers, Jacksonville and Lakeland are suspected cases awaiting confirmation.

Florida map/National Atlas of the United States
Florida map/National Atlas of the United States