Can You Get Leprosy from Armadillos?

Long forgotten by the 21 century in most areas, leprosy was thrust back into the spotlight with reports that the disease could be passed to humans by armadillos. Leprosy victims suffer from skin lesions, disfigurement, and nerve damage, as well as numbness in extremities. It’s a quirk of genetics that humans and nine-banded armadillos are the only two mammals able to carry the disease. Heightened awareness of links between the armadillo and leprosy has shed new light on the dangers of zoonotic diseases, which pass between species.

Connecting Armadillos and Leprosy

A specific aspect of armadillo anatomy makes these pests a good carrier for leprosy. The bacteria that causes the ailment, also known as Hansen’s Disease, needs just the right conditions to thrive. Scientists theorize that armadillos’ low, 90 degree body temperature makes them an ideal living Petri dish. As a result, leprosy has become the most feared armadillo disease.

Preventing Transmission

The easiest way to avoid armadillo diseases like leprosy is to simply stay away from the animals. Luckily, with their heavily armored bodies, they’re easy to spot. In some parts of the country, armadillos are hunted for sport or even eaten as a delicacy. Obviously, these activities must also be halted to avoid exposure to armadillo leprosy. The disease typically requires long-term or repeated contact for transmission, so armadillo infestations should not be ignored. If these pests are encroaching on residential property, the experts at Trutech can provide safe removal to eliminate the threat.