Source: Tampa Bay Times 

Veterinarian Juan Campos Krauer at the University of Florida is investigating why Central Florida has become a leprosy hotspot. Examining roadkill armadillos, Krauer collects tissue samples to test for Hansen’s disease, a rare illness in the U.S. but increasingly reported in Florida. Brevard County, particularly, has seen a significant rise in cases, accounting for 13% of the nation’s leprosy cases in 2020.

Armadillos, known carriers of the bacteria, are suspected of spreading the disease, possibly through soil contamination. The bacteria thrive in armadillos’ cool body temperatures and might be transmitted to humans through indirect contact. Researchers from various universities have teamed up to understand the transmission better. Preventative measures include wearing gloves when working with soil and avoiding contact with armadillos. Krauer’s ongoing research, which involves testing armadillo samples for leprosy bacteria, aims to provide insights into reducing infection risks and understanding the disease’s spread in the region.

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