Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
comic strip overdue media

Thursday, April 28, 2011

I've suspected this ever since I learned they carried leprosy

And I played with them as a child. They were kind of the like armoured opossums (in terms of their tendency to get hit by cars and their size--they're placental mammals, not marsupials) in Louisiana. Never ate one, though, or had a desire to. Apparently of the cases in the US, most are in Texas and Louisiana, so there was a good chance of a link. Now they've made it.

Armadillos pass leprosy to humans, study finds
Leprosy is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium leprae, a cousin of the microbe that causes tuberculosis. People with leprosy develop skin lesions; severe cases can cause nerve damage or disfigurement in the limbs.

Over the years, M. leprae has proven hard to study, its migration around the globe hard to plot, for a variety of reasons. The bacterium can't be grown in a lab dish. Leprosy has a years-long incubation period and propagates slowly. It is hard to contract — only 5% of humans are susceptible, and even they usually need to have close and repeated contact with M. leprae to develop an infection.

In the past, people with leprosy were confined to leper colonies. Today, it is treatable with a combination of three antibiotics, said Dr. James Krahenbuhl, director of the National Hansen's Disease Program. About 3,600 people in the U.S. have the disease, he added, and they aren't expected to die from it.

1 comment:

Bob said...

I once wrote a parody of Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer called Larry the Leperdillo. Not worth reproducing here, even if I could readily lay my hands on the journal I scribed it in.