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Medicine Science

Yes, an Armadillo Can Give You Leprosy 151

Posted by timothy
from the wear-a-saddle-every-time dept.
sciencehabit writes "For years, scientists have speculated that armadillos can pass on leprosy to humans, and that they are behind the few dozen cases of the disease that occur in the US every year. Now, they have evidence. A genetic study published in The New England Journal of Medicine shows that US armadillos and human patients share what seems to be a unique strain of the bacterium that causes leprosy. If an armadillo's blood 'got on my tires of my car from running [the animal] over, I would wash it down,' advises one expert. 'And I would not dig in soil that has a lot of armadillo excrement.'"
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Yes, an Armadillo Can Give You Leprosy

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  • by Dr.Bob,DC (2076168) <drbobdc1970@gmail.com> on Thursday April 28, 2011 @03:43PM (#35967518) Journal

    I've never run across a patient with leprosy but in The Journal of Chiropractic Medicine, I read about a person in Texas who went to her Chirporactor with leprosy sores. The Doctor performed some excellent manipulations which got the patient's nervous system in tip-top shape to battle the infection.

    After intense treatments the leprosy was GONE.
    • by dkleinsc (563838) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @03:47PM (#35967582) Homepage

      There's just one problem with curing leprosy: bloody do-gooders [youtube.com].

    • by turkeyfeathers (843622) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @03:48PM (#35967586)
      Correlation does not imply causation. It could be that the patient took some effective homeopathic medicines after seeing her Chiropractor and that's what cured the leprosy.
      • I'm pretty sure that we can rule out the possibility of the patient having taken an effective homeopathic medicine on grounds of internal consistency...(unless they were suffering from thirst, of course. Homeopathic medicines are overpriced for that affliction; but efficacious).
      • by KDR_11k (778916)

        Leprosy has a fairly high recovery chance (50% IIRC) even in the rare case that it does break out (most people will not catch leprosy even when infected with the pathogen, the immune system fends it off). It doesn't need an external cause.

    • It's like Jesus healing the lepers, only instead of a miracle, this is pseudoscience bunkum.

    • by Mojofreem (556489) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @03:57PM (#35967748)
      Leprosy is caused by a bacterial infection, and is easily cured with common antibiotics.
      • by hawkeyeMI (412577)
        Mod parent up. Leprosy is no longer an issue. Antibiotics FTW.
        • by snowgirl (978879) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @04:37PM (#35968400) Journal

          Mod parent up. Leprosy is no longer an issue. Antibiotics FTW.

          Not only this but leprosy is like the bitch version of a bacterial infection. Most of the time, you have to be predisposed to being able to acquire it anyways (or immunocompromised, but that's true with any bacteria/fungus/virus). It's basically somewhere around 10% of the population that can actually acquire leprosy... everyone else could pretty much walk hand in hand with a leper and never catch a thing.

          • by tomhudson (43916) <barbara.hudsonNO@SPAMbarbara-hudson.com> on Thursday April 28, 2011 @05:33PM (#35969168) Journal

            everyone else could pretty much walk hand in hand with a leper and never catch a thing.

            ... one good sneeze and they can catch all sorts of flying body parts ...

            Seriously, "only" 10% are at risk? 10% is HUGE!

            And on the not-so-serious side ...

            Q. Why do lepers make such lousy poker players?
            A. They have to quit after they've thrown in their hands.

            Q. What's small and green and sheds it's skin?
            A. A leper-chaun.

            Q. What do you call 10 lepers in a hot tub?
            A. Oatmeal.

            Thank you, thank you ... try the fish.

            • by snowgirl (978879)

              Seriously, "only" 10% are at risk? 10% is HUGE!

              Yes, this is true, but things like a cold can be caught by 100% of the population (ok, more or less near 100%), but only a small percentage actually catch enough for it take enough of a foothold and cause symptoms.

              Imagine if only 10% of people could contract The Plague... rather than wiping out an enormous amount of the population, it would have had a significantly decreased impact on the world. People are crazy likely to explain why only some people get a disease like that, by blaming some personality flaw

      • Have you just ruined the entire Chronicles of Thomas Covenant series for me?

        • by plover (150551) *

          Have you just ruined the entire Chronicles of Thomas Covenant series for me?

          No, the entire Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever ruined it for themselves. If he spared you five minutes reading that ...tripe... then you owe him for saving that five minutes of your life you wouldn't have otherwise gotten back.

          Here's the story (still irritating a few of my braincells even after 25 years): bitter leper whose life sucks passes out and imagines he's now healthy in a faraway land of magic and swords. The first things he does in this new land are evil (rape and murder). Spends t

          • What made it interesting for me was the crossover between the harsh realities of our modern world, including rape and terminal illness, and the softly lit fantasy worlds where innocence is real. I think it got a lot of people's backs up because they assumed it was glorifying rape (central character was a rapist), which Donaldson also followed through with in his superb Gap series, but that wasn't the point at all. You see that same kind of stark contrast in movies like The Fall and Pan's Labyrinth, a breath

      • by eleuthero (812560)
        Yes, but the extant damage it has caused is not easily cured. They are just now getting into nerve transplantation and even then, it doesn't always take. Artificial nerves, as we saw earlier this week, are developing nicely, but we are still a long way off from practical usage.
    • Welcome to Slashdot, and thanks for bringing something new and original to the art of trolling! When I saw your recent chiropractic trolls, I thought you might be a flash in the pan, but now I see you are here for an extended stay. Thanks for bringing some levity into my otherwise boring day.

      • by RsG (809189)

        Note to anyone who thinks spun is joking:

        Go click on "dr" bobs user page. The name and high UID alone should be a clue. Yes, he is a troll, and yes, he is specifically posting chiro/alt-med comments that he knows will get a reaction. Further to this, the entire thread above this post should serve as proof that it's working.

        Honestly, it never ceases to amaze me the number of otherwise intelligent people who will fall for a troll posting deliberate flamebait. At least this one is more subtle than most.

        • by spun (1352)

          It's actually pretty funny. Slashdot is one of the more rational and skeptical sites on the Internet. Almost anyplace else, you would get an almost equal number of believers defending the guy. There really are few places less inviting to a real chiropractor. He gives a few hints as to his true nature, I especially like "Subluxations are worse than cancer." Hahaha, oh, that's rich. Unless you really have cancer, in which case I imagine it must feel fairly insulting. "Sorry to hear about your pinched nerve, d

          • by Mindcontrolled (1388007) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @06:17PM (#35969686)

            Slashdot is one of the more rational and skeptical sites on the Internet.

            Have you any idea how much it scares me that this is true?

            • by spun (1352)

              Well, I suppose it should scare you. This is as good as it gets.

              Why is it that the older I get, the dumber people appear? Luckily, there is a corollary: the older I get, the less I care. I figure, the world must have always been this way, right? They just lied to us when we were kids, they didn't want us to worry that clowns were running the place. But the world shambles on in its moronic fashion, somehow lurching past one near disaster after another. It gives one some comfort to realize that, as dumb as th

              • I guess I went through another step between the two - when I realized what freakshow this is, I thought I could change anything. When I realized that it won't happen, I went into caring less mode. But yes, you are right, it is amazing how resilient the whole thing proves to be. Nature of life, I guess - evolution doesn't optimize towards the best, only towards anything that is just barely working good enough. That's what we are stuck with - and intelligence only shows you how hard "barely good enough" actua
        • His best yet was:

          Chiropractic adjustments for newborn babies is barbarous! Most of my fellow Chiros will refuse to see children under 3, by the time the spine has had time to set.

          ^ that is pure gold

    • by tomhudson (43916) <barbara.hudsonNO@SPAMbarbara-hudson.com> on Thursday April 28, 2011 @04:50PM (#35968592) Journal

      I've never run across a patient with leprosy

      Well, if you do, remember the advice from the article - wash your tires It's called "getting rid of the evidence.".

      And if you;re in the US, run them over a few times to make sure they're really dead, and not just faking it. Your insurance rates won't go up as much if they have to pay for a funeral instead of 50 years of medical expenses.

      If an armadillo's blood 'got on my tires of my car from running [the animal] over, I would wash it down,' advises one expert. 'And I would not dig in soil that has a lot of armadillo excrement.'"

      So, someone needs an expert to tell them not to play in poop? Don't mothers teach their kids not to play with the "clay" in the sandbox any more?

  • Had Jack Hanna on the other night, Jack brought out an Armadillo and mentioned something out this. Not sure why I bothered to post this.

  • I'm slightly confused how blood on your car tires is a likely transfer case. Is it airborne, or contact based, or would you have to touch it and then rub your eyes or ingest it somehow? I don't know about you by the only time I touch my tires IS when I'm washing them down. And I guess maybe checking air-pressure. I've certainly never considered them particularly sanitary.
    • Ah, you misread the quote. When he said "If an armadillo's blood got on my tires of my car from running [the animal] over, I would wash it down", the "it" referred to the armadillo and not the car tire. He was suggesting you wash off the armadillo before eating it which is good advice for any roadkill.
    • by bmo (77928)

      >He's never had to change a tire in his life where he didn't have washing facilities. Or even change a tire from the looks of the message.

      I don't know about you, but when I have to change a tire, it's never in a convenient place where I can wash up. It's always out in the middle of nowhere.

      Couple this with the incredible number of times we all touch our faces per hour unconsciously, and yep, you've got a vector.

      --
      BMO

      • I guess I did fail to account for the case where you run over the Don Quixote of armadillos that manages to shred your tire as you run him over. But then you wouldn't have anything to wash the tire off with first anyways. My point was along the lines of tire touching is pretty infrequent (unless your doing a shitty job inflating your tires which would explain why changing a tire is something you'd think a better example then checking the pressure) so it seems like you'd be more at risk to exposure by immed

        • Washing off the tire would be a good idea because the bacteria survives well, particularly in soil/sand/etc. If you run over the armadillo and then park in your garage, there's a good chance the little m. leprae are going to still be alive. Washing the tire off won't remove that possibility entirely, but it will get rid of most of them, reducing your risk significantly. And even if they do have a cure, I'd hate to have symptoms (irreversible) before they realized the need for treatment.

          More importantly, t
        • by bmo (77928)

          >fix-a-flat can

          Just so you know, unless you specifically buy the non-flammable fix-a-flat, you have filled your tire with a fire/explosion hazard. You are supposed to tell your mechanic that you used a fix-a-flat can so he can purge the tire with air a few times before unmounting the tire.

          I've always been diligent about this after a friend/mechanic yelled at me for not telling him.

          --
          BMO

      • by plover (150551) * on Thursday April 28, 2011 @09:29PM (#35970968) Homepage Journal

        >He's never had to change a tire in his life where he didn't have washing facilities. Or even change a tire from the looks of the message.

        I don't know about you, but when I have to change a tire, it's never in a convenient place where I can wash up. It's always out in the middle of nowhere.

        Couple this with the incredible number of times we all touch our faces per hour unconsciously, and yep, you've got a vector.

        --
        BMO

        On several occasions that I can remember when I've had to change a tire on the road, I've banged up my knuckles on something or other while loosening the lug nuts, or cut myself on some sharp bit of metal while raising the vehicle with the jack. There's reason enough to not want to have known pathogens hanging around your fenders.

    • by boristdog (133725) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @04:10PM (#35967928)

      That's it, I'm not going to check the tire pressure with my mouth any more.

  • Why is this news? I caught an armadillo 20 (Twenty) years ago, and the next day read up on them and was shocked and terrified to learn they often carry leprosy.
    • by Amouth (879122)
      what i find news is that the US has it's own strain.. not really that hard if you think about it..  but interesting..

      i guess the news is that the now have evidence to confirm transmission occurs rather than just saying.. hit has it and you might be able to get it, and it would be bad if you did.
  • We humans gave them leprosy to begin with. Leprosy was unknown in the new world before Columbus. Turns out this is just another case of mother nature wanting to kill everything.

    • by sconeu (64226)

      Turns out this is just another case of mother nature wanting to kill everything.

      Bender: Hey hot mama, wanna kill all humans?

      Mother Nature: Sure!

    • by couchslug (175151)

      "Turns out this is just another case of mother nature wanting to kill everything."

      Mother Nature DOES kill everything as part of the process which sustains life. Zero waste, everything turns back into "food".

      Pretty cool actually.

  • Am I only one who has no clue how to tell if excrement is from an armadillo or not? Much less whether a patch of dirt has a lot in it?

    • by Nidi62 (1525137)
      You can learn to identify the characteristics of armadillo droppings, just as you can any other animal. As for knowing if a patch of dirt has some in it, well, if you are working in the yard/ground and you live in a region with armadillos, wear gloves and wash well afterwards. And if you do find the droppings and think you've been exposed, just go into the doctor and get tested. Simple as that.
    • Am I only one who has no clue how to tell if excrement is from an armadillo or not? Much less whether a patch of dirt has a lot in it?

      It doesn't matter. Just run this and you'll be fine:
      sudo apt-get uninstall armadillo

      https://launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/armadillo/ [launchpad.net]

  • Hellfire (Score:5, Insightful)

    by aapold (753705) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @04:11PM (#35967950) Homepage Journal
    Damn you Lord Foul! Must you corrupt these beautiful creatures and turn them into servants of despite?
  • I was planning on finally shoveling that pile of armadillo excrement in my back yard after work today, but I'm glad I caught this at work. Phew!
  • at least now I know why I feel so numb after working all day on my armadillo farm.
    • at least now I know why I feel so numb after working all day on my armadillo farm.

      That's not leprosy, that's the creeping sense of despair one feels when they realise they've ended up working on an armadillo farm.

  • A varmint rifle and a shovel. Turn the critter into a red mist from a distance, bury it later if it's not in a convenient spot.

    • by arivanov (12034)

      Yeah, spread as much as possible of the infectious material into an aerosol in the air... Great idea. The last thing you need to do to a potentially infectious creature is to shoot it.

  • And I would not dig in soil that has a lot of armadillo excrement.'

    Oddly enough, this has been my family's motto for five generations.

  • 'And I would not dig in soil that has a lot of armadillo excrement.'

    I can think of several reasons other than leprosy why I would avoid doing this.

  • With the caveat that you also have to be in the 5% of people that don't have a natural immunity to it already.

    • by Greyfox (87712)
      Hmm. Good point. To find out, I'll just expose myself to this vial of leprosy... No... No... seems fine... Oh, it was actually a vial of pop rocks. Well who has my vial of leprosy then?
  • I can't go digging in soil with Armadillo excrement? Well there goes my vacation plans!

  • From a parenting book:

    Q. Do diapers give you leprosy?

    A. No. Its the pee and the poopoo that give you leprosy. Diapers give you hives.

    But seriously, I'm not surprised that there is an animal/human vector for what is, after all, a virological disease.

    So let go of that armadillo, Joe. You might catch something.

  • by jd (1658)

    So that's what killed The Clash. Mystery solved.

  • You can get chlamydia [theweek.com] from a koala, those adorable little sluts.

    If you're having marital relations with a koala, chlamydia is probably the least of your problems.

    • by Macgrrl (762836)

      You laugh, but a friend of mine did her doctoral thesis on chlamydia in koalas. It is a serious problem threatening an already at risk species.

  • Armadillo licking parties, science spoils everything. I wondered why I couldn't feel my tongue recently...

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