What is the incidence of leprosy in the US?

Updated: Jun 05, 2020
  • Author: Darvin Scott Smith, MD, MSc, DTM&H; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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Answer

In 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 178 new cases of leprosy were reported in the United States. [7]

Eighty-five percent of leprosy cases in the United States are found in immigrants, [8] although endemic foci exist in parts of Louisiana, Florida, and Texas along the Gulf of Mexico; in Mexican and Asian California populations; and in Spanish Americans in New York City.

Some cases among native US citizens can be accounted for by exposure to leprosy overseas. Some cases can be attributed to a contact with a known case of leprosy or exposure to infected armadillos, especially in the southern United States, where wild armadillos and many patients with leprosy in the United States are infected with the same strain of M leprae. [7] Leprosy may be a zoonosis in the southern United States because armadillos are a large reservoir for this disease.

Nonetheless, history of exposure cannot be verified in many patients. [9]


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