At first she thought it was just a scar from when a caterpillar bit her. Then it turned Moncler Women Down Jackets into a blotchy red rash that spread from her left calf to her foot. "A girl at school kept asking, 'What's that thing on your leg?'" remembers 15-year-old BB Blanchard, who initially worried so little about the painless rash that she didn't see a dermatologist until September 2007, almost two years after it appeared. After a biopsy her mother, Anne, sat her down and told her she might have Hansen's disease. "What's that?" BB asked. "You know," said Anne. "Leprosy."

The news hardly seemed possibleeprosy? "I broke down and cried," says BB, a pretty, popular sophomore at a Baton Rouge high school. "I remember watching cartoons with Jesus and a leper in Moncler Women Down Coats the corner all huddled up and his limbs would fall off." Her family, friends and teachers were also stunned by the diagnosis. "People are astonished to know this disease is still alive," says James Krahenbuhl, director of the National Hansen's Disease Programs. "They are more afraid of this than of other infectious diseases."

It may seem more like a biblical-era scourge than a modern-day ailment, but there are currently some 6,500 reported cases in the U.S., and experts say that around half a million new cases are diagnosed each year worldwide. Still, leprosy, which attacks skin and the peripheral nerves, is vastly misunderstood. It is not, for instance, contagious, nor does it inevitably lead to a loss of fingers , a cocktail of antibiotics will wipe it out before the nerve damage that leads to disfigurement occurs. "Most doctors have only seen it once, in medical school," says David Scollard, acting chief of the Hansen's Disease Center in Moncler Women Down Vests Baton Rouge. "But it is treatable and curable."