This outbreak is attributed to the contact with armadillos. According to a local doctor, the people who were infested had been in direct contact with these animals.
Armadillos are armor-shelled animals that are natural carriers of leprosy. They have the tendency to spit whenever they fear for their lives. This is why, when they are in a cage or you manage to get closer to it, it will most likely react in this way.
The bacteria that causes leprosy – Mycobacterium Leprae is easily spread to the person through small droplets of saliva or mucus from the animal. Therefore, people are asked to stay away from armadillos as much as they can.
Leprosy also goes by the name of Hansen disease and it is quite easy to spread, because one can get it from an infected person as well.
In spite of that, the disease is quite rare, mainly because 95 percent of the people are immune to the infection. Those who become infected might experience symptoms that range from minor ones, such as skin lesions to very serious ones like seizures or psychosis.
Health experts are not very worried about the increasing number of cases because the disease is rare and easily treated, even if it is very unpleasant and could lead to nerve damage if it isn’t treated on time. However, if the person takes the right medication, he or she will most likely manage to recover.
In the United States there are about 100 cases of leprosy every year. The highest number of cases are recorded in Africa and Southeast Asia, where the disease is usually spread by humans, as the population density is much higher.
What the experts found amazing is that all the nine cases recorded in Florida were linked to armadillos.
This may be due to the fact that there are people who decide to keep the animals as pets. In addition to that, armadillos’ homes are being destroyed constantly, as homes for people are being built. This has them wandering in places where you wouldn’t expect to find them.
Ron Magill, a spokesman for Zoo Miami said that it is important for us to be extremely careful with armadillos. Even if they look perfectly healthy, it doesn’t mean that they don’t carry the disease, so we should avoid to touch them at all costs .
Image Source: arstechnica