The PJ Tatler

Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Go to Florida

As if there were any doubts that Florida is the worst state in the union (although New Jersey does have its partisans), this story in the Daily Beast should put them to rest:

A leprosy outbreak in Florida is being attributed to an unlikely source: armadillos. Nine cases of the disease have been reported thus far in 2015—almost double the usual state rate, which sees an average of 10 diagnoses per year—with the most recent victim citing exposure to the New World mammals.

Armadillos are believed to be the only animal able to carry leprosy—which some scientists believe they contracted from humans hundreds of years ago—and are common across Florida. “We catch more armadillos than we do any other species,” wildlife trapper Kyle Waltz told Action News Jacksonville. “If they’re trying to get out of a cage they can spit on you.” Residents have raised concerns that the critters may bite domestic pets, resulting in bacterial infections akin to those transmitted by rodent bites.

A new case reported in Flagler County, Fla., is the first to be declared in the region for at least 15 years, which has led to fears that contact with the creatures may see infection rates rise even further.

I’ll stick to California.