What is the incidence of leprosy in the US?

Updated: Aug 24, 2018
  • Author: Darvin Scott Smith, MD, MSc, DTM&H; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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Answer

In 2014, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 175 new cases of leprosy were detected in the United States. [5]

Eighty-five percent of leprosy cases in the United States are found in immigrants, [6] 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.

Based on genetic analysis studies, wild armadillos and many patients with leprosy in the southern 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. [8]


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