Floridians Having 'Direct Contact' With Armadillos Causes Leprosy Spike

Illustration for article titled Floridians Having 'Direct Contact' With Armadillos Causes Leprosy Spike

Once again, Florida is leading the nation: The same state that brought you Disney World and the world’s first and only mollusk museum is now leading the country in new cases of leprosy. 9 new cases of the disease have been diagnosed in Florida since the beginning of 2015, and experts suggest that “fuckin’ with armadillos” (our paraphrase) has something to do with it.


The New York Daily News reports that every one of the cases diagnosed this year (and Florida usually has about two to 12 per) has been related to the patient’s contact with armadillos. The phrase “direct contact” is beautifully suggestive: are Floridians taking the world’s fifth-most frightening animals home as pets? Posing for selfies with them after running them over? Becoming involved in deep and invested romantic relationships with them that are mutually satisfying for both partners? But the reality’s a little less “fun” and a little more bleak.

From CNN:

“There is a clear reason why this is happening in Florida,” [Dr. Sunil] Joshi said. “New homes are being developed, and we are tearing down armadillos’ homes in the process. Now these creatures are coming out in the daytime, and the people who are getting exposed are those working outside.”

Fortunately, most people are immune to the bacteria that causes leprosy, making it a rare disease. And, according to the CDC, contracting leprosy from being in contact with an armadillo is fairly rare. Still, if you’re in Florida—or, you know, anywhere armadillos live in general—you might want to avoid the nine-banded armadillo, no matter how inviting its shell looks.

And, if you haven’t avoided the dreaded ‘dillo, and you’re concerned you might have contracted leprosy due to direct contact, a helpful symptom and treatment guide can be found here.

Contact the author at mark.shrayber@jezebel.com.

Image via Getty



“The world’s fifth-most frightening animal”? I can think of waaaaaay more than four animals scarier than armadillos. Actually I can see more than that just walking the fuck outside. Greetings from south Alabama, where we have numerous species of venomous snakes, alligators, alligator gar (which are arguably even worse), assorted predatory owls that will eat your small pets like they’re furry Hot Pockets, ditto the red-tailed hawks which once tried to dive-bomb my parrot in his cage (through a plate-glass window, ha ha you fucking dumbasses), giant banana slugs, various types of bats, and a mosquito population that’ll make you reconsider the relative merits of DDT.

Also, one time I was sitting on the porch late and night and the rustling/thumping/clunking noise I heard was not a shrubbery-crawling burglar in a football helmet, but was in fact an armadillo. Oops, sorry, I mean a TERROR-INDUCING FOUR-LEGGED ARMORED LEPROSY BOMB.