Lack of Observed Association between Armadillo Contact and Leprosy in Humans

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  • Bacterial Diseases Division and Field Services Division, Bureau of Epidemiology, Center for Disease Control, Public Health Service, U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, Atlanta, Georgia 30333

In 1971 it was discovered that the nine-banded armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus) could be infected in the laboratory with Mycobacterium leprae, and would manifest disease similar to the lepromatous form of leprosy in man. In 1975 several wild armadillos captured in Louisiana were found to have a disease identical to the M. leprae infection in laboratory animals. To determine if there is a significant association between contact with armadillos and presence of leprosy in humans, the armadillo contact of persons with indigenous leprosy in Louisiana was compared to the contact of matched controls. No difference in the nature or frequency of contact was found. If this infection of wild armadillos is of recent onset, an association with human leprosy in enzootic areas may not be detectable for several years.

Author Notes

Bacterial Diseases Division, Bureau of Epidemiology, CDC.

Field Services Division, Bureau of Epidemiology, CDC, located in the State Department of Health, New Orleans, Louisiana.

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