Who Knew

Leprosy Linked to … Armadillos?

Scientists have concluded that armadillos are a source of leprosy infections in humans. About one third of the 150 to 250 people who contract leprosy in the U.S. each year get it through contact with an infected armadillo, researchers concluded; the cases are concentrated in Louisana and Texas, where people hunt and eat the animals. However, before armadillos started giving us leprosy, it seems we gave leprosy to the armadillos: The disease did not exist in the New World before Christopher Columbus and armadillos are indigenous to the New World. As many as 20 percent of armadillos in some areas have leprosy.