Saturday, June 18, 2016

Bizarre Florida Leprosy Cases May Be Linked To Armadillos

When we hear about the horrific effects of leprosy in ancient times, the thought of it still existing today can definitely set your nerves on edge. Most people know it by its painful skin lesions and growths, but leprosy (or Hansen's Disease as it's known today) can have some other serious effects. You may also experience a loss of feeling in affected areas, as well as muscle weakness, paralysis, and eye problems that can eventually lead to blindness.

With all of this in mind, it may seem strange to learn that there really isn't much of a reason to worry about leprosy. Nightmarish as these symptoms are, they tend to take on their most extreme forms when the disease is left untreated. Plus, it's actually quite rare to contract leprosy in the United States.

Still, it's something you'd like to avoid if you can. Aside from getting it from other humans, there's only one other way to contract the disease and it's pretty strange.

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You usually end up with leprosy if an infected person sneezes on you.

It's not entirely their fault, though. Hansen's disease often incubates for three to seven years before showing any symptoms, so they wouldn't even know they had it.

Even if they do sneeze on you, that doesn't mean you'll get it.

In fact, it's extremely unlikely because 95% of people are naturally immune to the disease.

Even if you do get it, it's fairly easy to treat.

Your doctor will prescribe a mix of antibiotics for between six months and two years, depending on how advanced the disease is.

Strangely, between two and 12 cases of leprosy flare up in Florida every year.

That's still not very many, but there may be a special reason they appear so regularly in the Sunshine State.

That's because armadillos are also leprosy carriers.

There's certainly no shortage of the cute critters in Florida, so they're a possible source for these mysterious cases. It's hard to link them directly because of the long incubation but research shows that it is possible to catch the disease from armadillos.

Why armadillos?

In addition to being hard to catch and easy to treat, leprosy dies really quickly outside of the body and it's hard to grow it even in lab conditions.

However, armadillos have body temperatures of about 90 degrees, which makes them great hosts for the leprosy pathogen.

So it's probably not a good idea to eat or play with wild armadillos.

But again, you're just as unlikely to contract the disease from them as you are from other people. Not to mention they tend to be skittish, so you'd likely have to go out of your way to put yourself at risk.

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Author: verified_user