In the past decade, before the new cases, only one person in Volusia County, Florida, was diagnosed with the disease.
Health officials there said the recent increase in cases was unexpected, but because the incubation period ranges from nine months to 20 years, they did not think the three new cases signaled a wave of new infections.
In addition to Volusia County, health officials in nearby Brevard County, Florida, have seen a recent increase in cases, with 18 reported over the last five years. Of the eight people diagnosed with leprosy in Florida last year, three were from Brevard County.
"This is hard to track," said Inman, who noted the disease can incubate from nine months to 20 years.
Inman said some of those were infected after interacting with armadillos, a known carrier of the disease.
The U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention recommends people avoid contact armadillos to limit the possibility they can contract the bacteria that causes leprosy.
Symptoms of leprosy include skin lesions that may be faded or discolored, thick, stiff or dry skin, numbness in affected areas, ulcers on the soles of feet or muscle weakness or paralysis.
An estimated one to two million people have been permanently disabled by the disease. Today, the disease can be treated with antibiotics, although a course of treatment can be lengthy, lasting between six months to two years according to the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.