Leprosy is a disease that has plagued the human race since the beginning of time. It has affected people of all races, nationalities and social status. The early days of American history has involved issues involving leprosy, regarding the treatment of people suffering from the disease. Over the years, leprosy has failed to be considered a threat to public health, however, now it is becoming a concern.
Leprosy In Modern America
Cases of leprosy are rare in the U.S.. However, due to the increase in immigrants from Mexico, India, Africa and other Third World nations, there has been an increase in the number of reported leprosy cases. According to research done by Ben Whitford in Leprosy In America: New Causes of Concern, an average of 130 leprosy cases are discovered each year among immigrants. The leprosy cases are mainly in areas of the United States with a high immigrant populations, such as in New York, Texas, California, and Florida. According to Whitford, because many American doctors have very little experience in treating the disease, leprosy in its early stages is often mistaken for eczema or diabetes.
People with HIV are now at risk of developing leprosy. (Worrisome New Link: AIDS Drugs& Leprosy, New York Times, Oct 24, 2006, Donald G. McNeil Jr.) These cases have been found in various places in the United States as well as in Third World nations. People treated with antiretroviral drugs for AIDS are developing leprosy. Doctors and scientist are baffled at this problem and are trying to figure out the cause.