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September 1988

Leprosy in Six Isolated Residents of Northern Louisiana: Time-Clustered Cases in an Essentially Nonendemic Area

Author Affiliations

From the Section of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine (Drs West, Todd, and King and Mss Lary and Blake) and Department of Pathology (Dr Fowler), Louisiana State University School of Medicine, Shreveport. Ms Lary is now with the Division of Infectious Diseases and Immunology, Department of Pediatrics, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock.

Arch Intern Med. 1988;148(9):1987-1992. doi:10.1001/archinte.1988.00380090067018

• Northern Louisiana has been essentially free of indigenous leprosy, and now it is not. Six new cases of leprosy have been diagnosed: three in 1986, the other three in 1985, 1983, and 1982, respectively. The patients had been lifelong residents of six scattered rural parishes. Leprosy had never been reported from five of them. No patient had had contact with human leprosy. The patients were white; four were women; the mean±SD age at onset was 60.3±16.4 years (age range, 31 to 80 years); and the mean±SD interval to diagnosis was 1.2 ±1.4 years. One patient had Hodgkin's disease at the age of 25 years and leprosy at the age of 31 years; another patient had cervical carcinoma. All rural northern Louisiana residents coexist with armadillos (Dasypus novemcinctus), some of which are infected with Mycobacterium leprae, the significance of which is unknown. Hypothetically, exposure to an unknown human case, reactivation of "asymptomatic" leprosy through immunosenescence or immunosuppression, or infection from an environmental source might have occurred. Because the patients lacked contact, travel, residence, and exposure risk factors, the origin of leprosy in the new indigenous cases is noteworthy and is not understood.

(Arch Intern Med 1988;148:1987-1992)

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