When I saw this news report on the internet I was shocked, truly shocked. If you are like me than you thought that the bubonic plague had disappeared a long time ago but this simply isn’t the case. Here in the U.S. there have been 1,006 confirmed cases of the plague between 1900 and 2012 and 5 out of 6 of them were of the bubonic type. (Bubonic is named for the characteristic feature of buboes (painfully enlarged lymph nodes) in the groin, armpits, neck, and elsewhere.)
If you remember your history than you remember the plague known as the “black death” that killed 60% of the entire population of Europe during the Middle ages. The disease was carried by rats but spread to people that were bitten by fleas that contracted it from those rats. Well, this is still true today and flea bites are exactly how the young lady in Oregon has contracted this dreaded disease.
You’ll be happy to know that she is no longer in intensive care and is doing well. In the past 2 decades there have been only eight cases of plague in Oregon so there is no reason to be overly concerned but there are some things you can do to avoid this very rare occurrence from happening to you or a loved one. The bottom line is to keep yourself and your loved ones away from wild animals such as chipmunks, squirrels and other rodents. These are the culprits carrying the infected fleas.
The last time that the bubonic plague became an actual pandemic was way back in the 1860’s. By 1894 it appeared in Hong Kong and then eventually throughout the entire world via ship bound rats. Today’s modern medicine and knowledge of the disease would most likely prevent such a serious outbreak from ever occurring again but your best defense is to simply not get it in the first place. Keep in mind that an average of only 7 or 8 cases a year occur in the U.S. so while this is not a major public health concern, it does in fact still exist.