WEIRD SCIENCE

Human Leprosy Linked to Armadillos?

Scientists said Wednesday they had found a link between leprosy in humans and armadillos, the only other animals besides humans known to carry the disease. While there has been anecdotal evidence of a link between armadillos and the infamous bacterial disease that leads to nerve damage and disfigurement, researchers said they’ve found proof by analyzing genomes of leprosy-carrying bacteria collected from seven patients and one armadillo. After finding the specific strains of the bacteria, they compared them to a large group of infected people and armadillos—50 patients and 33 armadillos around the world. Twenty-five patients and 28 armadillos shared a genetically identical strain of leprosy bacteria, and at least eight of the 25 patients carrying the strain reported contact with armadillos.