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National Hansen's Disease (Leprosy) Program Caring and Curing Since 1894

The National Hansen's Disease (Leprosy) Program

The National Hansen's Disease Program is the epicenter of Hansen's disease (leprosy) care, research and information in the U.S.

  • Cares for patients at its facility in Baton Rouge.
  • Oversees an ambulatory care network with clinics throughout the United States and Puerto Rico and makes referrals for treatment.
  • Consults with private sector physicians and accepts referrals for patients with Hansen's disease (leprosy)-related complications.
  • Advances treatment and educates medical professionals about Hansen's disease (leprosy).
  • Conducts research intramural Hansen's disease (leprosy) biomedical research.
  • Reaches out to medical professionals with a comprehensive Hansen's disease (leprosy) training program.

The U.S. Government established the predecessor of the National Hansen's Disease (Leprosy) Program, the National Leprosarium in Carville, Louisiana, in 1917. Outpatient clinics were established in 1981.

Hansen's Disease (Leprosy) Facts

  • Most (95%) of the human population is not susceptible to infection with M. leprae, the bacteria that causes Hansen's disease (leprosy).
  • Treatment with standard antibiotic drugs is very effective.
  • Patients become noninfectious after taking only a few doses of medication and need not be isolated from family and friends.
  • Diagnosis in the U.S. is often delayed because health care providers are unaware of Hansen's disease (leprosy) and its symptoms.
  • Early diagnosis and treatment prevents nerve involvement, the hallmark of Hansen's disease (leprosy), and the disability it causes.
  • Without nerve involvement, Hansen's disease (leprosy) would be a minor skin disease.
  • 159 new cases were reported in the U.S. in 2020 (the most recent year for which data are available).
  • Most (110 or 69%) of these new cases were reported in
    • Florida
    • California
    • Louisiana
    • Hawaii
    • New York
    • Texas

Hansen's Disease and the Armadillo

A genetic study at the National Hansen’s Disease Program reports that armadillos may be a source of infection in the southern United States.

The National Hansen's Disease Program advises:

  • The risk of transmission from animals to humans is low, but armadillos are wild animals and should be treated as such, with all proper precautions.
  • Individuals should decide for themselves whether to interact with these animals and, if so, what precautions to take.

Learn more:

Contact Information
National Hansen's Disease Program
9181 Interline Avenue
Baton Rouge, Louisiana  70809

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