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Armadillos May Spread Leprosy

People infected with leprosy in the United States often have the same previously unknown strain of the microbe Mycobacterium leprae that is also carried by armadillos. Though it’s been known for decades that armadillos can harbor leprosy, also called Hansen’s disease, the discovery of the overlapping strain strengthens the long-held assumption that armadillos can infect people directly.
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Researchers report in the April 28 New England Journal of Medicine that many infected people in the Deep South contracted leprosy while close to home—not in some exotic locale where the disease is more common. The only possible infectious agents would be an armadillo or person. Some of the infected people had even handled armadillos, the only animal known to harbor leprosy.
 
 

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