Border Jumping Leprosy Puts Los Angeles Homeless At Risk

Diseases that haven’t been around since the Middle Ages are reappearing in places like Los Angeles. Outbreaks of typhus and bubonic plague have already been reported. Now, Los Angeles “homeless areas are at risk for the reemergence of another deadly ancient disease — leprosy.”

Typhus and plague are both carried by fleas that feed on rats, which in turn feed on garbage and sewage in areas commonly heavily populated. Both are curable with antibiotics, as long as a diagnosis is made in time. Isn’t it time for the left-leaning LA County Board of Supervisors to start cleaning up the garbage, and maybe even help some folks to find homes?

Another scary biblical disease is leprosy, or “Hansen’s disease.” It involves the same bacteria as tuberculosis, called mycobacteria. Thankfully, it’s hard to transmit and also can be cured with a mixture of three antibiotics. With leprosy, time is crucial because it is much easier to cure in the earlier stages. As time goes by, significant tissue damage occurs.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are almost 200,000 new cases of leprosy reported around the world every year. Two thirds are in India, due to rampant poverty. The poor are most often affected due to close quarters, lack of sanitation and regular medical care, just like the homeless in LA.

Untreated leprosy causes disability over time. Peripheral nerves are affected and fingers and toes go numb. The more serious version is Multibacillary Hansen. This causes skin legions, nodules, plaques and nasal congestion. If the eyes are involved, corneal ulcers and sometimes blindness can happen.

Here In the U.S., the CDC reports 100 – 200 new cases of leprosy each year. Most were Latino and originated from Mexico. It took an average of three years before these patients were diagnosed, making the damage worse and irreversible, even with treatment.

In comparison, Central and Southern America report more than 20,000 new cases of leprosy each year. With that many cases, it is inevitable that the invading migrants are smuggling leprosy. According to the Hill, “there is certainly the possibility of sporadic cases of leprosy continuing to be brought across our southern border undetected.”

It’s only a matter of time before it will be seen in our southern cities. Los Angeles has over 60,000 homeless with most of them lacking basic shelter, hygiene and medical care. This makes for a swirling stew of sicknesses. As noted by the Hill, “it seems only a matter of time before leprosy could take hold among the homeless population in an area such as Los Angeles County.”

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