Oct 24, 2023
This week, we address the reemergence of leprosy, a disease rarely seen until now, with particular attention to the warning by New York University physician Marc K. Siegel. While the United States generally reports only 150 to 250 leprosy cases yearly, globally, 2 to 3 million people grapple with leprosy-related disabilities. Siegel emphasizes the risk in certain US cities, such as Los Angeles, where unsanitary conditions among the homeless population create fertile ground for diseases like leprosy to thrive. Leprosy, caused by Mycobacterium leprae, can spread more easily in overcrowded, unhygienic environments.
Early detection is vital, but homeless individuals often lack access to medical care, risking severe complications if left untreated, including nerve damage, skin lesions, and blindness. Siegel stresses the need for attention to permanent disabilities and the potential for public panic if leprosy takes hold among the homeless population.