Leprosy cases on rise in Florida

Many victims came in contact with armadillos, heath officials say

Three people have been diagnosed with leprosy in Volusia County over the last five months, two of whom got the disease after coming into contact with armadillos, health officials said.

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Officials said three cases is an unusually high number for a rare disease.  Typically, about 150 to 250 new cases of the bacterial disease are reported nationwide each year, with fewer than 10 in Florida, according to health officials.

Eighteen cases of leprosy were reported in Brevard County over the last five years, including eight in 2014.

Health officials said some of the Brevard cases were also linked to contact with armadillos, but it's not known exactly how the animals were involved in each case.

One case in Orange County was reported to the state last year.

Officials said the public does not need to be concerned and the disease is not very contagious.

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