Richard W. Truman, Ph.D., Chief, Laboratory Research Branch with the National Hansen’s Disease Program joined me to talk about leprosy in the United States and recent research published in the journal, Emerging Infectious Diseases entitled “Zoonotic Leprosy in the Southeastern United States” on the Outbreak News This Week Radio Show with Robert Herriman on Dec. 27, 2015.

Hansen’s Disease (Leprosy) Facts

  • Most (95%) of the human population is not susceptible to infection with M. leprae, the bacteria that causes Hansen’s disease (leprosy).
  • Treatment with standard antibiotic drugs is very effective.
  • Patients become noninfectious after taking only a few doses of medication and need not be isolated from family and friends.
  • Diagnosis in the U.S. is often delayed because health care providers are unaware of Hansen’s disease (leprosy) and its symptoms.
  • Early diagnosis and treatment prevents nerve involvement, the hallmark of Hansen’s disease (leprosy), and the disability it causes.
  • Without nerve involvement, Hansen’s disease (leprosy) is a minor skin disease.
  • 175 new cases were reported in the U.S. in 2014 (the most recent year for which data are available).
  • Most (128 or 73%) of these new cases were reported in
    • Arkansas
    • California
    • Florida
    • Hawaii
    • Louisiana
    • New York
    • Texas