Officials at Indian Hills Elementary School in Jurupa Valley near Los Angeles have confirmed that one of its students has been diagnosed with leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease. Two children had initially been diagnosed by a local doctor, but tests conducted by the National Hansen’s Disease Laboratory Research Program in Baton Rouge, Louisiana proved only one tested positive.
The school is now publicly emphasizing that the community will remain a safe environment. Classrooms have been extensively sanitized, and public health officials have released public statements regarding information about leprosy. They note that contracting the disease is extremely difficult, and hardly contagious. “It is incredibly difficult to contract leprosy,” said Dr. Cameron Kaiser, Riverside County’s public health officer. “The school was safe before this case arose and it still is.”
95% of the U.S. population is naturally immune to the rare disease, with only a reported 150 cases a year. It’s also treatable with antibiotics.
Hansen’s disease is a long-lasting infection caused by bacteria, which involves the shedding of body parts. It is not spread through short-term contact like handshakes, kissing, or sexual intercourse, but rather through extensive long periods of contact between individuals.
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