Can armadillos transmit leprosy to people?

What are Armadillos? Armadillos are unique placental mammals that are known worldwide for their leathery armored shell. These mammals are nicknamed in some parts of the world as “turtle rabbits” because they resemble at the same time a turtle and a rabbit.

Armadillos hail from South America. Today, all extant species of these mammals are present in South America. However, armadillos are also present in other parts of the world. Two armadillo species, the nine-banded armadillo and the northern naked-tailed armadillo are found in Central America and in the United States. The nine-banded armadillo is commonly found in Texas, Nebraska, Indiana, South Carolina, and Florida. Armadillos range from small to medium-sized in their size. The smallest type of armadillo is the pink fairy armadillo while the largest type of armadillo is the giant armadillo, which can grow to be the size of a small pig. Armadillos are known to be prolific diggers. Most armadillos use their sharp claws in order to dig for food and to dig dens. The US-native nine-banded armadillo builds burrows near streams, creeks, and arroyos. The diet of armadillos mainly consists of insects, ants, and invertebrates.

What is Leprosy?
Leprosy is a dangerous infectious disease that causes nerve damage in the legs, arms, and other parts of the body. The disease also causes disfiguring and severe skin sores. This dangerous disease is caused by the bacteria called Mycobacterium leprae. Once a person gets infected with Mycobacterium leprae, the infection will usually remain asymptomatic for five to twenty years. Symptoms that will develop afterward include granulomas of various organs which may result in inability to fell pain. Leprosy is usually spread between people. However, this disease is also spread by some animals onto humans. In the past, leprosy was incurable but today it is curable.

Can Armadillos Transmit Leprosy to People?
We told recently that some animals carry leprosy and transmit it onto people. However, the truth is that the only animals that transmit and carry leprosy are armadillos. This means that only humans and armadillos carry the leprosy bacterium.

It has been estimated that almost a third of the new leprosy cases in the United States results from contact with armadillos. Such new cases of leprosy caused by armadillos are mostly concentrated in Louisiana and Texas, where people hunt for armadillos and eat them. So make sure not to come in contact with armadillos, let alone eating them. This is the only way to protect yourself from leprosy.

Read the How to get rid of armadillos page for helpful information and to learn more about Can armadillos transmit leprosy to people?

Can armadillos transmit leprosy to people?

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