The Carville National Leprosarium: Background information when reading King of the Armadillos

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King of the Armadillos

by Wendy Chin-Tanner

King of the Armadillos by Wendy Chin-Tanner X
King of the Armadillos by Wendy Chin-Tanner
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    Jul 2023, 336 pages


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The Carville National Leprosarium

This article relates to King of the Armadillos

2011 photo of the site where the Carville facility was located, showing a wide, white two-story building with pillars on both levels King of the Armadillos by Wendy Chin-Tanner takes place partly in a federal institute in Louisiana where young protagonist Victor Chin is sent to be treated for Hansen's disease — commonly known as leprosy — in the 1950s.

This inpatient center, often referred to simply as Carville, was built on the site of an abandoned sugar plantation first rented to the state by the bank that owned it. In 1894, it was established as the Louisiana Leper Home. Nuns from the Daughters of Charity order arrived in 1896 to care for the patients and take charge of the home's development. It was purchased by the state in 1905, and selected as a site for a National Leprosarium in 1921.

Hansen's disease is a chronic condition brought on by a kind of bacteria that can cause tissue and nerve damage in infected people, resulting in loss of sensation, muscle weakness or paralysis. While it is relatively difficult to transmit and is treatable with medication today, it has historically been a...

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