(WASHINGTON) -- A new study suggests that in parts of the U.S., armadillos may be transmitting leprosy – also known as Hansen’s disease – to humans.
Researchers at the Bureau of Primary Health Care analyzed the genes of the leprosy-causing bacteria in infected armadillos as well as 39 U.S. patients who resided in areas where armadillo exposure is possible. They found that 28 of the 33 armadillos, as well as 25 of the 39 patients, were infected with exactly the same strain of the bacteria.
The disease is not common in the United States. The Department of Health and Human Services estimates that there are currently 6,500 cases of the disease in the country, with 150 new cases reported in 2008.
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