Leprosy is gaining ground in Florida, with nine cases confirmed so far by health authorities.
Accordingly, Florida residents are advised to keep their distance from the armoured animals as they are natural carriers of the bacteria causing leprosy, mycobacterium leprae. Not all armadillos are infectious, but for some, the bacteria is activated and can be easily transferred to humans.
Keeping to their forest habitats most of the time, armadillos occasionally venture near homes and close-by towns. They are largely nocturnal animals, yet young armadillos have been spotted sniffing around homes in daytime as well.
In Florida there are typically about 10 cases of leprosy each year. The disease is not the anathema-drawing medical condition it used to be in the past. Today, it is treatable, especially if it discovered early-on. Clinical treatments are widely available and efficient.
But now, nine cases have already been registered in the state of Florida, reaching previous years’ limits.
During the 1980s, there were 5.8 million cases of leprosy reported on an yearly basis. Now, there are approximately 230,000 cases yearly at the global level, and across the U.S. there are 50 to 100 cases reported from year to year.
Florida’s average has already been reached. Throughout the remaining of 2015, there is the potential that the number of cases increases. Thus, keeping distance from armadillos is highly recommended.
The latest leprosy report comes from Bunnell, Flagler County. Biological sampling and epidemiological analysis confirmed that the strain is armadillo bound. The CDC also confirms that armadillos are the only mammals carrying the bacteria and are responsible for the infections in the U.S.
For those infected, peripheral nerve damage affecting all members and organs in the body. It can be treated efficiently with antibiotics like clofazimine, rifampin or dapsone, yet the scars and disabilities caused by leprosy remain.
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