NYU Warns LA about Outbreak of Medieval Disease

Leprosy X-ray by National Museum of Health and Medicine is licensed under creative commons license 2.0
Dr. Marc Siegel, of New York University's Langone Health, writing in The Hill, notes that the CDC reports that between 100 and 200 new cases of leprosy are annually reported in the U.S. He adds that a USC study found that of the 187 leprosy patients treated at its clinic between 1973 to 2018, most came from Mexico, where leprosy is more common. Siegel points out, "Leprosy is still more prevalent in Central America and South America, with more than 20,000 new cases per year. Given that, there is certainly the possibility of sporadic cases of leprosy continuing to be brought across our southern border undetected."

Then Siegel addresses Los Angeles:

And it seems only a matter of time before leprosy could take hold among the homeless population in an area such as Los Angeles County, with close to 60,000 homeless people and 75 percent of those lacking even temporary shelter or adequate hygiene and medical treatment. All of those factors make a perfect cauldron for a contagious disease that is transmitted by nasal droplets and respiratory secretions with close repeated contact.

The Daily Mail notes, "Leprosy, or Hansen's disease, affects 250,000 people worldwide every year, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention … The bacteria behind the infection, Mycobacterium leprae, attacks nerves in the body, which can lead to the characteristic 'peeling' skin. Untreated, this can cause paralysis of the hands and feet."

David Costa, building construction and maintenance superintendent, stated, "The homeless are using the grated areas above the pits as their bathroom and relieving themselves, This is also attracting the rats. Custodial will need to do some hazmat cleaning of the grates and the pits. There are even hypodermic needles being tossed in the pits along with human waste and other garbage."
Leprosy X-ray by National Museum of Health and Medicine is licensed under creative commons license 2.0