The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have yet to release a warning or travel advisory for Florida holiday makers as a leprosy outbreak plagues the state.
Florida is a hotspot for a rapid increase in leprosy cases, according to a research note from the health agency. Though the CDC did note that Florida should be considered when doctors and researchers conduct leprosy contact tracing, an official travel advisory has yet to be issued.
Parts of central Florida accounted for 81% of leprosy cases in the state. Historically, almost all cases of the disease came from people who’d immigrated from leprosy-endemic areas, but many are now contracting the disease locally.
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The modern cases of the ancient, mutilating disease are “lacking traditional risk factor,” and “those trends, in addition to decreasing diagnoses in foreign-born persons, contribute to rising evidence that leprosy has become endemic in the southeastern United States,” the CDC noted.
The source of leprosy transmission within Florida has yet to be determined. People typically contract the disease through extended person-to-person contact. (RELATED: WHO Announces Outbreak Of Two Rare, Deadly Diseases)
It’s thought that 95% of people cannot contract leprosy due to natural immunity, and treatment typically includes antibiotics. The condition is also known as Hansen’s Disease, and affects nerves, skin cells, eyes, and the lining of the nose, according to the CDC.
If left untreated, it can lead to horrific mutilations, and the crippling of hands, feet, as well as other forms of paralysis and blindness. Symptoms include numbness on discolored patches of skin, growths, painless swelling in the face, and loss of eyebrows and eyelashes.