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Leprosy, Plague and Other Visitors to New York

When New York City’s health department revealed last weekend that three people had contracted cholera, it was a reminder that the city is not just a world capital of arts, business and the like — but also of exotic diseases.
If a disease has cropped up in the world, there is a good chance it will eventually find its way to New York City through the diverse travelers who cross the city’s borders.
For instance, several people every year are found to have a biblical disease, leprosy, though health officials say no one has to fear catching it in the subway. In 2002, bubonic plague, more commonly associated with the 14th century, found its way to New York City through two travelers who came from a ranch in New Mexico, where the disease is endemic in flea-bitten wild animals like prairie dogs.
 
 

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