Variety discovered will have developed from the disease that existed some 27 thousand years ago.

© iStock
© iStock

An investigation has found that red squirrels in the UK, Ireland and Scotland are infected with ‘mycobacterium lepromatosis’ or leprosy (or Hansen’s disease).

According to the article published in the journal Science, the variety of bacteria found in animals south of Brownsea Island originates from the medieval variety that affected humans on a large scale.

The study also predicts that there may be a transmission of disease to humans, however, but the assumptions are very low.

The red squirrel has become a threatened species in the United Kingdom, which has led scientists to investigate ways to prevent its disappearance.

The outbreak of leprosy infections was detected when squirrels in Scotland exhibited skin lesions. Analysis of dead animals from Great Britain, Ireland and Scotland confirmed the presence of leprosy.

The identified leprosy variety was discovered in 2008 and was thought to affect only humans in Mexico and the Caribbean. The study indicates that it will have developed from the disease that existed some 27,000 years ago.

Human leprosy continues to appear in different varieties, even with the arrival of medicines.

Scientists now believe that the red squirrel may just be an example of an animal that has served as lodging for the disease, perhaps since the Middle Ages.


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