Tuesday, June 24, 2014
Monday, June 23, 2014
Armadillos aren’t what you’d call cute and cuddly: Their beady eyes, scaly skin, and bony shell give them the appearance of a rat masquerading as a lobster.
But the mammals are pretty tough when they roll into a protective ball, which is why Brazil picked a Brazilian three-banded armadillo named Fuleco as the mascot for the 2014 World Cup.
A Legacy of Leprosy
Different though we may seem, humans and armadillos share an unfortunate similarity—we’re the only animals that can naturally contract Hansen’s disease, better known as leprosy.
Leprosy is caused by the Mycobacterium leprae bacterium. This nasty bug prefers slightly cooler temperatures, which is why in humans it causes serious damage to the extremities. Unfortunately for our armored friends, armadillos tend to have a lower core body temperature than most mammals. This means the bacterium is free to go crazy throughout their body cavity, eventually causing organ failure and death.
“But in order to contract leprosy from an armadillo,” said Loughry, “I always tell people you really have to want to, because it’s not easy to get it.”
In other words, unless you butcher an armadillo while you have open wounds on your hands, you’re unlikely to catch leprosy from one of these animals.
If only the same were true for the armadillos. By sequencing the bacterium’s genome, scientists have determined that leprosy didn’t exist in the New World until Europeans arrived.
Surprisingly Brazil has a larger problem with Hansen's disease than India based on population - even with a early detection test and a cure.
Saturday, June 21, 2014
The reason I enjoyed seeing this statue is because I'm an advocate for ending Hansen's disease (leprosy). It's still alive and well in Brazil and India and many other countries. There is a cure, and a blood test for early detection in Brazil, and they are now working on a vaccine. More to come later -- helping end one of the world's oldest known diseases!
The Father Damien Statue, also called the Saint Damien of Molokaʻi Statue, is the centerpiece of the entrance to the Hawaiʻi State Capitol and the Hawaiʻi State Legislature in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi. A second bronze cast is displayed in the National Statuary Hall Collection in the United States Capitol along with the Kamehameha Statue. The landmark memorializes the famous Hawaiʻi Catholic Church priest from Belgium who sacrificed his life for the lepers of the island of Molokaʻi. Father Damien is considered one of the preeminent heroes of Hawaiʻi, and was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on October 11, 2009. Cast in bronze, the statue depicts Father Damien in his later years after being diagnosed with the disease of those he attended.