Armadillos blamed for increase in Florida leprosy cases

A baby nine-banded armadillo along the roadside at the Kennedy Space Center. Wikimedia Commons photo credit NASA/Ken Thornsley
A baby nine-banded armadillo along the roadside at the Kennedy Space Center. Wikimedia Commons photo credit NASA/Ken Thornsley

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Leprosy cases in Florida are higher than normal, and experts are blaming armadillos.

WJAX-TV reports that nine cases have been reported across Florida so far this year, already nearly matching the state’s average of 10 cases per year, according to the Department of Health.

Dr. Sunil Joshi, president of the Duval County Medical Society, says each case this year has involved people who were in direct contact with armadillos.

According to the Center for Disease Control, armadillos are the only animal to carry leprosy, a bacterial disease that affects the skin and nerves. The disease can be spread through saliva.

The most recent diagnosis for leprosy came in Flagler County three weeks ago.

Joshi says these occurrences are still very rare, but urged people to stay away from the animal.

After many of our users contacted WFLA’s Facebook Page, we called a Tampa Veterinarian to find out about the dangers to household pets. Davis Island’s veterinarian, Dr. Steven Lewis says that armadillo bites can be dangerous just like bites of other rodents because of the bacteria transmitted to the animal.

Lewis says, “If your dog or cat is infected, you would see it develop skin issues, or lesions usually in the form of nodules on the ears or head most likely caused my mycobacteria known as “leproid granuloma syndrome.” It can be treated with the proper drugs. He added that he has never had to treat an armadillo bite.

WFLA.com provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

1 thought on “Armadillos blamed for increase in Florida leprosy cases

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s