This disease is biblical, and it has been known for many years. It is known as Hansen’s disease, and the bacterium responsible for it is the Mycobacterium leprae. The most common symptoms are skin lesions, disabilities and disfigurement, and nerve damage. Because it is spread through aerosol infection, the high degree of transmissibility makes it dangerous.
According to leprosy expert John Stewart Spencer from the Colorado State University, it can take even up to seven years for the first leprosy symptoms to appear.
Tropical countries have the highest prevalence of leprosy cases
The leprosy expert mentions that although there are verya few cases in most countries, leprosy is more common in countries with a tropical climate, such as India, Indonesia, Brazil, or some African countries. There are treatments available for this disease, but infections still occur due to lack of hygiene and poverty.
An interesting fact is that humans passed the infection to the nine-banded armadillo. This species is common in some South American countries, Central and North America. This discovery was made back in the late 40s. Prof Spencer continues to explain that in 2011, a researcher from the National Hansen’s Disease Program in Baton Rouge, Dr. Richard Truman, detected that the disease became a zoonotic infection. This meant that infected armadillos gave the disease to the humans they had contact with.
Armadillos have been raised as pets
Armadillos have been raised as pets or in the fashion industry. Dr. Truman discovered a different strain of leprosy in 2015 in Florida. The infected armadillos and humans were all from central Florida. However, it seems that not many people are aware that armadillos could pass down this zoonotic infection.
Another surprising research study in Brazil, where some people eat armadillos, has determined that many people from the Pará state in the Amazons had tested positive for antibodies in response to the leprosy infection. Cases of leprosy passed to humans from armadillos have been detected in Texas and Louisiana as well.