Since 2000, Leprosy has been considered eliminated throughout the world, with only one case per 10,000 people. There are only a few regions of the world in which cases of the disabling disease still exist, and one of those regions is Volusia County, Fla., where three people have been diagnosed in the last five months.

Leprosy, which is also called Hansen’s disease, has been around since the ancient Egyptians, causing painful skin lesions and growths; thick, stiff, or dry skin; paralysis, numbness in limbs, and enlarged nerves. Complications that arise from these symptoms of the infection, or a secondary infection from injuries sustained from these symptoms, often lead to the hallmark deformities that have caused so many people to become ostracized for their illness.

The infection is caused by Mycobacterium leprae, a slow-multiplying, tropical climate bacterium that incubates for up to five years, and whose symptoms can take up to 20 years to appear. It’s also far less contagious than it’s purported to be. For these reasons, Volusia County health officials don’t believe the three new cases signal an emerging outbreak. However, the sudden increase in cases has caught eyes due to the fact that in the past 10 years, there’s only been one case of the disease in Volusia County. Florida as a whole tends to have an average of eight to 10 cases of the disease per year, according to a 2009 report from the Department of Health and Human Services, ABC News reported.

It’s believed that two of the current cases stemmed from contact with nine-banded armadillos, animals that are not only prevalent in southern states like Louisiana and Texas, but also known to carry the bacterium — a 2011 study found this connection after analyzing the genomes of leprosy patients who had never traveled to regions where the disease is prevalent and the armadillos. For this reason, health officials have warned those who handle or get near the animals that while the risk of infection is low, precautions should always be taken to lower risk.

According to HHS, there are currently about 6,500 cases of the disease in the U.S., with about 3,300 of them requiring constant medical management. While the disease is easily treated with antibiotics, health care providers are often unaware of the symptoms of the disease, causing delays in the process, and worsening a patient’s outlook.