Florida residents reportedly are being urged to stay away from armadillos, which are being blamed for the unusually high number of leprosy cases across the state.
According to WFOX-TV, there have already been nine cases of the disease reported across the state this year. Florida averages about 10 cases for the entire year, according to the state Department of Health.
Dr. Sunil Joshi, president of the Duval County Medical Society, told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that each case this year has involved people who were in direct contact with armadillos.
Armadillos are the only animal to carry leprosy, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Leprosy is a bacterial disease that affects the skin and nerves and can be transferred through saliva.
The latest case of leprosy was diagnosed in Flagler County.
“What's happening in Florida is not necessarily concerning, but what's interesting is those cases were all with people who were in direct contact with armadillos,” Joshi told WFOX-TV.
Armadillos are usually nocturnal, but because they are in their breeding season, they can be seen out and about across Florida.