Journal Article


Anna L Meredith
Stewart T Cole
Stephen V Gordon
Fergal McDermott
Jesùs S Velarde-Felix
Lucio Vera-Cabrera
Jérémie Piton
Darren J Shaw
Janne Schoening
Colin Lawton
and 8 others



mycobacterium leprae animals leprosy british ireland humans great britain irish

Red squirrels in the British Isles are infected with leprosy bacilli. (2016)

Abstract Leprosy, caused by infection with Mycobacterium leprae or the recently discovered Mycobacterium lepromatosis, was once endemic in humans in the British Isles. Red squirrels in Great Britain (Sciurus vulgaris) have increasingly been observed with leprosy-like lesions on the head and limbs. Using genomics, histopathology, and serology, we found M. lepromatosis in squirrels from England, Ireland, and Scotland, and M. leprae in squirrels from Brownsea Island, England. Infection was detected in overtly diseased and seemingly healthy animals. Phylogenetic comparisons of British and Irish M. lepromatosis with two Mexican strains from humans show that they diverged from a common ancestor around 27,000 years ago, whereas the M. leprae strain is closest to one that circulated in Medieval England. Red squirrels are thus a reservoir for leprosy in the British Isles.
Collections Ireland -> University College Dublin -> PubMed

Full list of authors on original publication

Anna L Meredith, Stewart T Cole, Stephen V Gordon, Fergal McDermott, Jesùs S Velarde-Felix, Lucio Vera-Cabrera, Jérémie Piton, Darren J Shaw, Janne Schoening, Colin Lawton and 8 others

Experts in our system

Stewart T. Cole
University College Dublin
Total Publications: 3
Stephen V. Gordon
University College Dublin
Total Publications: 40