Leprosy is not a major public health problem in J the continental United States. However, approximately 2,000 cases of leprosy are known to exist in persons living here. The time lag between the appearance of symptoms of leprosy and the establishment of the correct diagnosis and institution of treatment in this country is frequently prolonged because the index of suspicion is low.1,2 Consequently, at the time of diagnosis, family members of the persons found to be suffering from leprosy may have been exposed to the disease for prolonged periods of time.
At the Leprosy Clinic of the US Public Health Service Hospital in San Francisco, 166 cases of leprosy were seen during the past seven years. Of 198 family contacts of patients with lepromatous disease examined at the clinic, 16 developed leprosy. This represents an attack rate of 80.8 per 1,000 contacts examined.
Until recently, the policy at the