Officials Investigate Leprosy Case in California

PHOTO: Light micrograph showing leprosy. PlayGetty Images/Science Source
WATCH Officials Investigate Leprosy Case in California

California health officials reported on Thursday that a child in Jurupa Valley, California, has been diagnosed with leprosy and another child is suspected of having the disease.

Leprosy, also called Hansen's disease, is rare in the U.S., according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. There were 175 new cases of the disease reported in 2014, the most recent data available.

The Riverside County Health Department has not listed a source or suspected source of the disease, but leprosy can remain in the body for three to 10 years before symptoms develop, according to the HHS.

“None of our recommendations to the school or parents have changed,” Dr. Cameron Kaiser, Riverside County’s public health officer, said in a statement yesterday. “It is incredibly difficult to contract leprosy. The school was safe before this case arose and it still is.”

Leprosy is very difficult to transmit and those infected are treated with standard antibiotic drugs, according to the HHS. Symptoms of the disease include red skin lesions, fever, malaise, joint pain and edema, according to the Riverside University Health System. Approximately 95 percent of people are naturally immune to the bacterial disease.