Don’t Touch an Armadillo?What is it bad to touch an armadillo? It carries Mycobacterium leprae, that causes Hansen’s Disease. Better known as leprosy, this awful disease is believed by some to occur only outside the U.S. In actuality, PubMed Health tells us¹ about 100 new cases occur in the U.S. each year.
Symptoms of LeprosyThere are two forms of leprosy, tuberculoid and lepromatous. There is a long, symptom free incubation period. Leprosy decreases color or causes a red skin pigmentation. Also loss of skin sensitivity, numbness, muscle weakness, and disfiguring sores.
The good news is leprosy is not very contagious. It usually takes repeated exposure to pass it on to others. One way is by sneeze droplets from an infected person.
Presence in AnimalsAlthough advanced leprosy is easily recognized in humans, it occurs in animals as well. These include the sooty mangabey monkey. Leprosy responds to treatment. But there are cases of drug resistance. Early treatment assures minimal disfiguring.
Another Disease HazardLeprosy isn’t the only disease passed on via armadillo. Another is Chagas’ disease (American trypanosomiasis). The dog and the opossum may transmit Chagas’ disease. Fortunately, it is not often seen in the U. S. Yes, there is a simple way to avoid leprosy and Chagas’ disease. Don’t touch an armadillo!
¹ PubMed Health: Leprosy – Hansen’s DiseaseReferences:
- Hansen’s Disease (Leprosy)
- Experimental leprosy in three species of monkey
- Health in Action – Leprosy
- Fast Facts – Chagas’ Disease