Doctors are reportedly warning against making contact with armadillos after a series of leprosy outbreaks that many believe are linked to the animal.
Leprosy, Newsiosity reported, is a disease that causes colored patches on the skin and can damage the eyes, nerves and limbs. In the 1980s, there were millions of known cases in the world – though the number of people who contract the disease has dropped to around 230,000 since then. The disease is also known as Hansen’s disease.
Though most new cases appear in just 16 countries, around 200 cases are reported in the U.S. per year. Florida, in particular, has seen a recent spike of cases this year. The state normally sees 10 cases per year, but nine have been reported since the beginning of 2017.
Recently, Armadillos sightings in Florida have been on the rise, and the shelled animals have been known to carry leprosy – leading many to theorize that contact with armadillos might be behind the rise in cases of the disease.
Some readers echoed warnings about coming in contact with armadillos, saying that people should be cautious when interacting with one.
“I’m from middle Fla… known this for years! Guys, just don’t touch and play with one! It’s that simple. C’mon! Use your common sense!” one Newsiosity reader commented on the site’s Facebook page.
“It has been know since the seventies at least. Google armadillos and leprosy and see. We have always had incidental cases of leprosy here and there was a leprosarium in south Louisiana,” another wrote.