Tags: leprosy | armadillos | florida

Armadillos Spreading Leprosy to Humans in Florida

Wednesday, 22 July 2015 02:32 PM

Nine people in Florida have been diagnosed with leprosy from armadillos so far this year, health officials say.

The number of 2015 documented cases is almost double the usual state rate, which sees an average of 10 diagnoses per year.

The illness infects approximately 100 Americans annually, mostly in southern states including Texas and Louisiana.

“It’s a surprise to most people that leprosy is still in the United States,” says Leisha Nolen, M.D., an epidemic intelligence service officer at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Doctors should be aware that leprosy is still present [here]. It’s rare…but it would be tragic if they miss it.”

Leprosy is caused by bacteria that can be transmitted via droplets from the nose and mouth of people with severe, untreated cases of the disease. Symptoms may not materialize for four to 20 years after the disease has been contracted.

“Most people think you can’t do anything about it, but leprosy is a disease that’s treatable with antibiotics,” Dr. Nolen explains.

The first connections between the disease and armadillos were reported in 2011. The CDC estimates that more than 60 percent of infectious human diseases originate from animals, including malaria, Ebola, and tuberculosis.

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Nine people in Florida have contracted leprosy from Armadillos so far this year, health officials say.
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Wednesday, 22 July 2015 02:32 PM
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