15 cases of human plague this year

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Atlanta – Fifteen people have been infected with bubonic plague so far this year in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told CNN. Four of those cases were fatal.

That’s four more cases and one more death than the CDC previously reported.

On average, there are seven cases per year, although in 2006 there were 17. An August report from the CDC put health care providers on notice to consider the plague in patients with symptoms and a travel history to an area where the plague has been reported.
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Plague occurs in rural and semirural areas of the Western United States, most commonly New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado. This year’s cases have been reported in eight states.
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There have been two patients in Arizona, four in Colorado, four in New Mexico, one in Oregon, one in California, one in Utahone in Georgia and one in Michigan. The patients in Georgia and Michigan were infected in California and Colorado, respectively.
The plague usually occurs from late spring to early fall but can be found any time of the year. There could still be more cases diagnosed this year, according to Dr. Natalie Kwit, a veterinarian with the division of vector borne diseases at the CDC.
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“If rodents aren’t out and about and humans aren’t, there will be no exposure,” she said.
A reason for the higher number of cases this year is not known, according to Kwit. In the meantime, she says that the number of “cases does tend to fluctuate due to interaction between fleas, the rodents they are on, and what the humans are doing.”
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The bacteria that causes the plague, Yersinia pestis, is naturally occurring in the environment and is found in areas where there are wild rodents. People usually become infected from fleas that have fed off of an infected rodent such as a rat, squirrel or chipmunk.
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Symptoms in humans develop between two and six days after exposure to the bacteria. They include an overall feeling of sickness, sudden fever, abdominal pain, swollen lymph nodes, nausea and vomiting.
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WHAT IS THE PLAGUE?

THE Black Death was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history and brought entire civilisations to their knees during its last global outbreak.

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The Great Plague of London was the last major epidemic of bubonic plague in England and killed around 100,000 people in London – almost a quarter of the city’s population – in just 18 months. Here is more about the deadly disease…

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 The Black Death often conjures up chilling images of masked plague doctors, who would stuff fresh herbs and spices in their 'beaks' to deal with the smell

The Black Death often conjures up chilling images of masked plague doctors, who would stuff fresh herbs and spices in their ‘beaks’ to deal with the smell

What are the symptoms of bubonic plague?

The World Health Organisation describes plague symptoms as “flu-like”, with one to seven days between incubation and the symptoms emerging.

Sufferers are likely to have painful lymph nodes, chills, fever, headaches, weakness and fatigue.

In bubonic sufferers, these inflamed lymph nodes may end up turning into pus-filled open sores.

Bubonic plague is fatal in 30-60 per cent of cases, while the pneumonic kind is always fatal, if left untreated.

There are three forms of plague infection: pneumoic plague, septicaemic plague and bubonic plague, the most common form.

Bubonic plague was known as the Black Death in medieval Europe, where an outbreak brought entire civilisations to their knees and decimated the world’s population.

Black Death is spread through the bite of infected fleas, whereas pneumonic plague, the most contagious form, develops after a bubonic infection.

Pneumonic infections can then be spread through the air, while septicaemic plague occurs when infection spreads through the bloodstream.

 Plague is a bacterial disease which swept through medieval Europe and has cropped up occasionally in the centuries since
Plague is a bacterial disease which swept through medieval Europe and has cropped up occasionally in the centuries since

What is the Black Death?

The Black Death, a widespread bubonic plague infection, peaked in Europe between 1346 and 1353.

It was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, leaving an estimated 75 – 200 million people dead in Eurasia.

This fatality rate represents a staggering 30-60 per cent of the European population at the time.

After the plague, society experienced a series of marked changes, including a rise in religious fanaticism.

Lacking the medical knowledge to understand the pandemic, some groups blamed Jews and lepers for the outbreak – resulting in mass killings throughout Europe.

It took around 300 years for global populations to return to pre-plague levels after the outbreak.

 The Black Death decimated the population of Europe when it swept through the continent in the 1300s

The Black Death decimated the population of Europe when it swept through the continent in the 1300s

How is plague spread?

The three different types of plague all refer to different ways the disease can be spread.

In bubonic infections, plague-causing bacteria can be transmitted between animals and fleas, with infected fleas then passing the disease on to people through bites.

Infected people may then develop pneumonic plague once their bubonic infection becomes advanced.

Lung-based pneumonic plague can then sometimes be transmitted through the air between sufferers.

Following a pneumonic or bubonic infection, people can then develop septicaemic plague, which occurs when the infection spreads through the bloodstream.

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“If rodents aren’t out and about and humans aren’t, there will be no exposure,” she said.
A reason for the higher number of cases this year is not known, according to Kwit. In the meantime, she says that the number of “cases does tend to fluctuate due to interaction between fleas, the rodents they are on, and what the humans are doing.”
.
The bacteria that causes the plague, Yersinia pestis, is naturally occurring in the environment and is found in areas where there are wild rodents. People usually become infected from fleas that have fed off of an infected rodent such as a rat, squirrel or chipmunk.
.
Symptoms in humans develop between two and six days after exposure to the bacteria. They include an overall feeling of sickness, sudden fever, abdominal pain, swollen lymph nodes, nausea and vomiting.
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The plague can be successfully treated with antibiotics, but only with a prompt diagnosis and treatment. It’s important to get to the doctor as soon as possible if you are experiencing symptoms and have been in an area where the plague has been found. The death rate is 16% among patients who have been treated and between 66% and 93% among those who are not treated, according to the CDC.
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It recommends individuals in areas where the plague is found to protect themselves by wearing long pants and using insect repellent on clothing and skin. The CDC also recommends protecting pets from fleas and removing anything that can be a food source for rodents, such as garbage, clutter and brush.
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The editorial and entrepreneurial staff of Blogfactory do not necessarily subscribe to  (or agree with) every point of view,or the views expressed and are not responsible for any inaccurate, incorrect or offensive statements in this article.
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