Leprosy Center To Close Leprosy is an illness that has been documented since biblical times. Most people believe it no longer exists. Yet each year, the disease strikes more than million people worldwide, including six thousand Americans. Over the last century, many found their way to a stately former plantation in Louisiana, the last federal hospital to treat what is now known as Hansen's disease. The hospital is scheduled to be transferred back to the state of Louisiana, a victim of its own success. The 122 remaining patients must decide to stay or leave the hospital that has been both their prison and their sanctuary for decades. Sally Squires, a health reporter for the Washington Post, reports on the final chapter in this tale of triumph over an old medical foe and the stigma, fear and discrimination that surround it.