Tags: plaque | US | disease | bacteria | Yersinia pestis

Why Does Plague Still Occur in US?

By    |   Monday, 10 Aug 2015 01:02 PM


Although plague is more associated with rampant disease such as "Black Death" that spread across Europe during the Middle Ages, plague is still with us. Although rare, it's not unusual to have up to 15 cases in the United States each year. Already, two people in Colorado have died from plague, and a young California girl who contracted plague in July is recovering.

In the United States, plague is generally confined to the Western states, where it is carried by rodents, such as prairie dogs. It's usually treatable with antibiotics.

"Prairie dogs are one of the major rodent species that serves as a reservoir for plague, and they tend to be west of the 100th meridian in the United States," said Dr. Amesh Adalja, infectious disease specialist at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. The longitudinal line is often referred to as the "plague line," he told LiveScience.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, plague is caused by the bacteria Yersinia pestis, carried by fleas and rodents. Bubonic plaque is the most common type of plague, but is not contagious. It's characterized by fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, and swelling of the lymph nodes that appear two to seven days after infection.

Adalja says people can protect themselves by using insect repellent, and wearing protective clothing such as long pants.

"The plague is a very rare disease in the United States, and people shouldn’t be too unduly concerned about it," he told LiveScience. "It's not something that people should really change their vacation plans over."

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Although plague is more associated with rampant disease such as Black Death that spread across Europe during the Middle Ages, plague is still with us. Although rare, it's not unusual to have up to 15 cases in the United States each year. Already, two people in Colorado...
plaque, US, disease, bacteria, Yersinia pestis
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2015-02-10
Monday, 10 Aug 2015 01:02 PM
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