There are an unusually high number of leprosy cases cropping up in Florida. Experts said they believe the spike is because of people coming into contact with armadillos. Florida typically sees two to 12 cases of leprosy a year, but so far there have been nine cases in 2015, according to the Florida Department of Health. The latest case was diagnosed in Flagler County three weeks ago.
Some armadillos, placental mammals with leathery armor, are naturally infected with leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Armadillos are one of the only known animals to carry leprosy, an age-old disease that causes skin and nerve damage. The CDC says it is possible to contract leprosy through contact with armadillos, but it is usually unlikely. MORE