Thursday, August 8, 2013

News Stories for Authors: The Black Death Returns

Rats. Cute, right? Unless you think about the diseases they help to transmit. Here's a short list here.

Evidently, the Black Death or Plague has not died. Well, perhaps it never did but a curious thing is that it disappears for years on end and then . . . it . . . comes . . . back.

Which always makes for a good medical thriller.

But now, it seems that the Black Death is popping up on the West Coast. Some interesting points from this article.

1. In LA county, a squirrel tested positive for bubonic plague or The Black Death. It is genetically similar to the organism that killed 200 million people in the 14th century.

2. Plague is spread from fleas, to rodents and then to humans. You can read further about transmission here.

3. There have been almost 1,000 cases of plague in the US. New Mexico sees almost half of these cases.

4. The pathogen responsible for bubonic plague is Yersinia pestis. It can be successfully treated with antibiotics. It's death rate is around 11%.

5. There is a season for plague (just like flu and some other viruses) that runs from late spring to early fall. My guess is because that's when rodents are active and not hiding in the snow during winter.

6. Untreated, the bacteria will spread through the body in one to six days. When it reaches the lungs-- it can then become airborne and is then called pneumonic plague which is why some think it would make a good biological weapon.

7. Death can occur in as short as three days.

The question is-- why does it disappear? What factors cause this to happen? Do you think there could be a true pandemic of The Black Death again?

Has the Black Death returned? Click to Tweet.

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