Navigation Links
Armadillos Give Leprosy to Humans in Southern U.S.: Study
Date:4/28/2011

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, April 27 (HealthDay News) -- The prehistoric-looking armadillo, already the state animal of Texas, now has a new claim to fame: leprosy.

A new study finds that armadillos carry the bacterium that causes leprosy, and have somehow passed the disease to several dozen humans in the southern United States.

"We've confirmed a long-suspected link between leprosy in humans and armadillos," said the study's lead author, Richard Truman, from the Bureau of Primary Health Care at the Health Resources and Services Administration's National Hansen's Disease Program at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.

Truman said it's important to realize that the risk of contracting leprosy (also known as Hansen's disease) from armadillos "is still infinitesimally small."

"The last thing we want is to induce panic in the population and incite a slaughter of armadillos. The best way to combat further infection is through education and prudence," the study's senior author, Stewart Cole, from the Global Health Institute in Lausanne, Switzerland, said in a news release.

James Krahenbuhl, director of the National Hansen's Disease Program, agreed. "This study doesn't change the risk of acquiring Hansen's disease from armadillos. It doesn't increase the risk. In fact, we're hoping publicity should decrease the risk by encouraging the public to decrease their contact with armadillos," he said.

Leprosy, caused by Mycobacterium leprae, is characterized by disfiguring skin lesions and peripheral nerve damage. The disease has been around since Biblical times, and was likely brought to North America by European settlers. People with leprosy were once shunned, and often forced to live in "leper colonies." Fortunately, the disease is treatable today, though it requires a long course of antibiotics.

Krahenbuhl said the treatment consists of a "cocktail" of three antibiotics ideally taken for two years. "The key is to diagnose early to prevent deformity and disability. Once these occur, they're irreversible. And, this is problematic because most physicians aren't even aware that the disease still exists," he said.

Although rare in the United States, leprosy still affects many people in tropical and semitropical areas. Almost 250,000 cases were reported worldwide in 2008. In the United States, the authors estimate that about 150 people develop Hansen's disease each year. And, most of these have traveled to parts of the world where leprosy is more common.

But the researchers noticed that about one-third of new cases developed in people who hadn't left the country, and most of these people lived in Louisiana or Texas.

Since the 1970s, armadillos have been suspected of being potential carriers of the disease. Their low body temperature makes them ideal incubators for the bacteria, according to the authors.

Using DNA analysis, the researchers were able to identify a unique strain of M. leprae that was present in 28 of 33 armadillos tested and 25 of 39 U.S. residents who lived in areas where exposure to armadillos would be possible.

Results of the study are published in the April 28 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

"The researchers used the same type of DNA analysis that's used in foodborne illness outbreaks. It's how we know that a certain strain of salmonella is responsible for a particular outbreak," explained Dr. Kenneth Bromberg, director of the Vaccine Research Center at the Brooklyn Hospital Center in New York City.

"This is a warning for people in the south and southwest who might have environmental exposure to stay away from armadillos," said Bromberg.

The study authors recommend that frequent direct contact with armadillos should be discouraged, as should consumption of armadillo meat.

More information

To learn more about leprosy, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

SOURCES: Richard Truman, Ph.D., Bureau of Primary Health Care, Health Resources and Services Administration, National Hansen's Disease Program, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, La.; James Krahenbuhl, Ph.D., director, National Hansen's Disease Program, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, La.; Kenneth Bromberg, M.D., director, Vaccine Research Center, Brooklyn Hospital Center, New York City; April 28, 2011, New England Journal of Medicine


'/>"/>
Copyright©2010 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. New drug for kidney transplant recipients effective in humans
2. Dolphins May Warn of Health Risks in Humans
3. Humans Tree-Dwelling Ancestors May Have Also Walked Upright
4. Tiny Fish Might Help Humans Fix Damaged Hearts
5. McGill-UBC project creates mouse grimace scale to help identify pain in humans and animals
6. Caring for Diabetic Pets Helps Humans Get Healthier
7. Hallmark Alzheimers disease changes found in retinas of humans and imaged in live animals
8. Cancer-metabolism link runs deep in humans
9. Plant compound resveratrol shown to suppresses inflammation, free radicals in humans
10. Scientists develop the first model for investigating the origins of testicular cancer in humans
11. Scientists find link in humans between nerve cell production, memory
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Armadillos Give Leprosy to Humans in Southern U.S.: Study
(Date:6/23/2017)... VA (PRWEB) , ... June 23, 2017 , ... ... of what is needed and will ultimately do significant harm to people with ... to everyone. , "While it leaves in place the Affordable Care Act ...
(Date:6/23/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... June 23, 2017 , ... ... plastic surgeon practicing in Newburgh, New York, has recently begun offering three new ... to offering the best cutting-edge procedures and reducing downtime, Dr. Rubinstein is excited ...
(Date:6/23/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... June 23, 2017 , ... ... cooking is essential, and two new videos highlight the importance of correctly using ... Christine Bruhn, Ph.D., who has done extensive research on consumer food safety habits. ...
(Date:6/23/2017)... ... June 23, 2017 , ... Ross Insurance ... With the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) recent update of flood zones, more ... 2012, the Biggert-Waters Act was enacted to reflect the actual risk in flood ...
(Date:6/23/2017)... ... June 23, 2017 , ... All-Star Insurance, a family managed agency that offers ... Texas, is announcing the launch of a new charity drive to benefit women in ... United States reveal that an estimated 252, 710 new cases of invasive or high ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/1/2017)... 1, 2017 Nutriceutical Holdings (NH), parent company ... (VRS), and KD Pharma Group have decided to join ... KD Pharma Group. KD Pharma Group will become the ... acquire the entire company. "We believe we ... committed to growing the NH companies by providing us ...
(Date:5/26/2017)... 26, 2017  Endo International plc (NASDAQ: ENDP ... CEO, will represent the Company in a fireside chat at ... Tuesday, June 13, 2017 at 10:40 a.m. PT / 1:40 ... in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA. ... will be available on the Company,s website at http://www.endo.com/investors/overview ...
(Date:5/22/2017)...  As the specialty pharmacy industry and the ... the revolutionary shift from volume-based to value-based care, ... patient outcomes and shaping the future of the ... from clinical trials and toward data that reveals ... therapy utilization in precise patient populations. Therigy ® ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: