Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 20/2/2010 (2651 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
According to something called the International Office of Epizootics, the nine-banded armadillo is the only creature capable of contracting leprosy other than a human being.
Although this armoured insectivore is expanding its range across North America, it has yet to reach Canada and certainly hasn't started scrounging around for grubs in the fertile soils of the Fraser River Valley in beautiful British Columbia.
This is good news for the nine-banded armadillo, because as most of the world was surprised to hear, leprosy has become a serious issue at the Vancouver Olympics.
On Friday, health officials in B.C. revealed someone working on a cruise ship housing Olympic personnel had been diagnosed with leprosy.
Although the ship in question served as a dorm for Olympic security personnel, the infected crew member worked below decks and didn't come into contact with the temporary lodgers, officials told The Canadian Press.
The man with leprosy, which is transmitted through infected nasal droplets, was sent back to his undisclosed home country for treatment. The general public was not at risk, officials said.
"I think the major concern is that the British media will run off with this," said Dr. Perry Kendall, B.C.'s chief medical officer of health.
Geez, do you think? The British press might have a problem with the 2010 Olympics? The same U.K. exaggerators who've compared the slopes of Cypress Mountain to the killing fields of Cambodia? The easily agitated Anglo-Saxons who've wondered whether the Vancouver Games are "the worst Olympics ever?"
I think the Israeli athletes at the 1972 Summer Games in Munich might have a problem with that sentiment.
Now don't get me wrong: I'm not a fan of the Olympics, and not just the ones in Vancouver. The idea of spending billions of dollars so underpaid athletes can generate massive ad revenues for TV networks and expose millions of couch potatoes to the nutritional wonders of Coca-Cola and McDonald's is not popular in my little corner of the universe.
As I suggested in this space last week, the Olympic message of international peace and harmony is a sickening mirage. The wealthy nations of this planet don't really care about the poor ones, despite the impressive aid efforts following natural disasters in places like Haiti and the eastern Indian Ocean.
Most of the time, we're content to fritter away our lives on Facebook and numb our minds watching So You Think You Can Masticate Canada. Far-flung, poverty-stricken places like Bangladesh and Benin just don't concern us until major disaster strikes -- or the parade of nations marks the start of the Olympic Games.
But the hyperbole surrounding the Vancouver Games remains unwarranted, aside from the legitimate criticism directed against VANOC for practically whistling past the corpse of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili.
Yes, Vancouver is too mild to host the Winter Games. Yes, the Olympic cauldron sits behind a fence that belongs in the demilitarized zone between the two Koreas. And yes, I believe I Believe to be one of the cheesiest pieces ever composed.
But this remains a series of athletic contests. When you strip away the corporate sponsorship and the bizarre juxtaposition of bald-faced nationalism against saccharine "we-are-the-world" sentiment, the Olympics are just a series of races between a bunch of people with unusually low body fat.
If the collective scorn of the planet's media needs to be directed somewhere, why not somewhere else? Why not bemoan the motivations of machine-gun manufacturers and the people who buy shares in their companies? Or U.S. senators who lobby to maintain corn subsidies that continue to push impoverished people off farms in developing countries?
Or a Manitoba government that spends $2.3 million on an Olympic pavilion that opens a few weeks before the province announces a public-sector wage freeze? Oh, wait -- I'm criticizing something Olympic-related again.
As Freep Parliament reporter Mia Rabson noted on her blog this week, Slate.com has taken the piss out of Manitoba House, this province's apparently feeble attempt to put its finest face forward at the Olympics.
Apparently, while we're showing the world an award-winning quilt, Saskatchewan is slinging beer and bison burgers.
Will the Selinger government survive the scandal? No one's going to notice, because Vancouver has had a case of freaking leprosy.