I've always found it interesting that people love little mascots and cartoon characters for this potentially disease-riddled critter.

It may seem unfair to call a critter "potentially disease-riddle", but the fact is that 20%, that's 1 in 5, carry leprosy. As a matter of fact, the disease is carried in relatively few other animals.

If by now you've guessed I'm talking about Armadillos, then you are correct. The nine-banded armadillos are apparently a filthy little bunch.  Before we demonize these little heroes on a half-shell, your chances of catching it from them are very, very low. Also, your chance of responding to treatment is very high.

Image by Frunkie from Pixabay
Image by Frunkie from Pixabay

Leprosy freaks me out after having read the book Papillion as a young adult. The descriptions of some of the lepers were a lot at the time, but much like fears of quicksand, running into stubbed-handed lepers hasn't happened much in my adult life.

Though the chance of transmission is low, you're still encouraged to avoid contact with armadillos. This doesn't seem like too much of a problem to me, but you may be a professional armadillo juggler or something, so it's worth mentioning.

Symptoms of leprosy are not good and are highly varied. You can have anything from a runny nose. to shrinking testes, to tissue loss, and more. Trust me, you don't want to know the "and more" and you certainly don't want to see the pictures on Wikipedia.

So if you run across the official "Texas small state animal", it's best you let it go on its way and not shake hands (paws?).

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