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Leprosy Outbreak In Florida: Experts Say Armadillos Could Be To Blame

22/07/2015 16:28 BST | Updated 22/07/2015 16:59 BST

Meanwhile in Florida...

A leprosy outbreak is being attributed to the armadillos.

Nine cases of the disease have already been reported so far in 2015. Usually the state only sees twelve in a year.

People are being warned to avoid contact with the creatures by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

armadillo

Don't be deceived by their cuteness

The CDC state that some armadillos are "naturally infected" with leprosy and they are believed to be the only animal able to carry the disease.

They also estimate that more than 60 percent of infectious human diseases originate from animals, and this process is the cause of major illnesses including malaria, Ebola, and tuberculosis.

Dr. Sunil Joshi said to news channel WFOX: "What's happened this year is not necessarily concerning, but what is interesting is those cases involved people who were in direct contact with armadillos."

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The first connections between the disease and the mammals were established in a 2011 paper entitled “Problematic Zoonotic Leprosy in the Southern United States.”

The CDC reports that the disease is treatable, and advises people to immediately wash their hands if they come into contact with an armadillo.

Around the world, as many as 2 million people are permanently disabled as a result of leprosy which causes nerve and skin damage.

People on Twitter were quick to share their thoughts on the disease spreading animals: