No, the CDC didn’t issue a travel advisory for Florida over an increase in leprosy cases


CLAIM: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a travel advisory for Florida due to increased cases of leprosy.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. A CDC journal published a report about increased incidence of the disease in Florida that suggested that travel to the state should be considered when conducting contact tracing. But the agency didn’t advise people not to visit.

THE FACTS: Leprosy, officially known as Hansen’s disease, is a bacterial infection that can affect the nerves, skin, eyes, and lining of the nose. While the disease has historically been uncommon in the U.S., a new report about cases in Florida has stirred false claims that federal officials are advising people to avoid the state.

“The CDC has issued a travel advisory for the state of Florida due to increase in leprosy cases,” reads one recent post on the platform X, formerly known as Twitter. “Maybe Ron DeSantis should focus on that instead of Mickey Mouse and drag queens.”

Another claimed: “The CDC has issued a travel advisory in Florida due to LEPROSY.”

But the CDC hasn’t issued such a travel advisory.

In fact, the agency’s page about the disease clearly states: “CDC has not issued a travel advisory for Florida, or any other state, due to Hansen’s disease (leprosy).”

“Hansen’s disease, also known as leprosy, is very rare in the United States, with less than 200 cases reported per year,” the page adds. “Most people with Hansen’s disease in the U.S. became infected in a country where it is more common. In the past, leprosy was feared as a highly contagious, devastating disease, but now we know that it’s hard to spread and it’s easily treatable.”

The agency’s Emerging Infectious Diseases journal published a recent report about Florida noted that the state has experienced increased cases of leprosy “lacking traditional risk factors.”

“Those trends, in addition to decreasing diagnoses in foreign-born persons, contribute to rising evidence that leprosy has become endemic in the southeastern United States,” it added.

The report further said that travel to Florida “should be considered when conducting leprosy contact tracing in any state,” but didn’t advise against people visiting the state.

Leprosy cases have been rising over the last decade, the report said, and Florida was among the top states reporting new cases in 2020.

The CDC notes that the spread of leprosy between people is not completely understood, though scientists believe it’s transmitted through droplets when a person with the disease coughs or sneezes. The CDC and the World Health Organization both say catching the disease requires prolonged, close contact over months with someone with untreated leprosy.
This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.

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