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January 6, 1984

`Imported' Leprosy in US

JAMA. 1984;251(1):18-22. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03340250010003

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Increasing immigration from developing nations has caused an unprecedented rise in the number of cases of leprosy, or Hansen's disease, in the United States, according to Samuel L. Moschella, MD, senior consultant at the Lahey Clinic, Burlington, Mass.

Speaking at the recent American Academy of Dermatology meeting in Chicago, Moschella said 350 new cases were registered in 1982 at the National Hansen's Disease Center in Carville, La. However, he added, extrapolating from this figure to cases not yet diagnosed and, therefore, as yet unreported, indicates that some 750 to 1,000 people may now be arriving from the Third World each year with incipient or active leprosy.

While such countries as Mexico and the Philippines have been the point of origin of many "imported" cases of leprosy in the past, most such cases now seen or newly diagnosed have originated in Cuba, Haiti, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and the Southeast Asian countries