Some armadillos and people with leprosy in the southern United States are infected with the same bacterial strain.
Hence, that suggests according to a new study, that the disease, which causes skin lesions and eventual nerve damage, can pass between species, although such circumstance they consider it rare.
Leprosy is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium leprae, a cousin of the microbe that causes tuberculosis. People with leprosy develop skin lesions and in severe cases can cause nerve damage or disfigurement in the limbs.
Scientists still believed that leprosy can only be passed from human to human. Every year, about 100 to 150 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with the disease, which is also known as Hansen’s disease. Most of those cases are in Texas and Louisiana, where leprosy-infected armadillos live too.
Richard W. Truman, director of microbiology at the National Hansen’s Disease Program in Baton Rouge and lead author of a paper detailing the discovery in the New England Journal of Medicine, said that there is strong evidence that people get leprosy from these animals.