In a research letter, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that cases of leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease, have surged in Central Florida. The area accounts for 81% of reported cases in the state and almost one-fifth of cases nationwide.

Leprosy is an infectious disease that normally spreads through contact and primarily affects a patient’s skin and peripheral nervous system. Known symptoms of the disease include discolored skin patches, thick and dry skin, loss of eyebrows and eyelashes, muscle weakness and enlarged nerves.

The research letter noted that “the number of reported cases has more than doubled in the southeastern states over the last decade.” Authorities said that several cases in Central Florida have not demonstrated evidence of exposure from animals or traditionally known risk factors.

The CDC states that roughly 150 people in the U.S. are infected by the disease annually. More than 200,000 cases of leprosy are reported every year in more than 120 countries, according to the World Health Organization.


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The surge coincides with a strengthening anti-vax movement in Florida after Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) expressed skepticism about the Covid-19 vaccine.

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