(WAFF) – A dermatological surgeon in Madison said Wednesday a patient in his care has been diagnosed with leprosy, a rare but chronic bacterial skin disease.
Dr. Angelo Mancuso said the patient lives in Morgan County, and has lived in the area for two years, but has previously been in a region where the disease is more common and contracted it outside the country.
Dr. Mancuso said this is the first known case in the county, and in North Alabama as a whole, with the last reported cases diagnosed in southern Alabama in 2012. He said the origin of those cases was not known.
The patient has been referred to an infectious disease specialist, and the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta has been notified.
Leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease, is not highly transmissible, and is treatable. With early diagnosis and treatment, it is not disabling.
Speaking by phone Wednesday night, Dr. Mancuso said he first noticed the patient had symptoms consistent with the disease. A biopsy performed confirmed the presence of leprosy.
Compiled statistics reveal that the condition is rare in the U.S. There are currently approximately 6,500 cases; about 3,300 require active medical management.
People diagnosed with the disease can generally continue their normal work and other activities uninterrupted while they are under treatment, which may last several years.