February 21, 2019

Leprosy still lurks in United States, study says

By Karl Oestreich

by Maggie Veatch

Leprosy is a disease most people think ended in the Middle Ages, but a new study shows that it's not a thing of the past. Mayo Clinic researchers wanted to understand how common it was in their clinic after a patient was diagnosed with the disease in March 2017. In the clinic's electronic CNN Logohealth records, they found nine patients diagnosed with leprosy over a 23-year period. The study authors emphasized that, though it's rare, the disease should still be considered when diagnosing patients. "This is not a disease that the average person in the United States has to worry about, but if they develop a rash and have extensive travel to a place where it is common, then they should bring it to the attention of their provider," said study author and dermatologist Dr. Spencer A. Bezalel.

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Context: Leprosy has a history that has spanned centuries and societies across the globe. Yet, it continues to be a problem — even in the modern era. Sufferers from the chronic and infectious skin disease still face the social stigma and lack of medical care that people have endured since the origins of the disease itself. Although leprosy can be treated, the World Health Organization reported 216,108 cases in 2016, with some of these patients seeking treatment at Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus. Looking at risk factors and demographic information of sufferers, researchers discuss local case studies of leprosy in the upcoming issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings. You can read more about the study on Mayo Clinic News Network.

Contact: Emily Blahnik

Tags: CNN, Dr. Spencer A. Bezalel, leprosy, Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Uncategorized

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