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According to reports over the weekend, fleas in two Arizona counties tested positive for the plague.
Here are 10 things you should know about the infamous disease, how it is found, and what the danger level really is in the United States.
1. What is it?
Plague is known for killing millions in Europe during the Middle Ages, but that was before the invention of antibiotics.
Plague - Bacterium - Yersinia - Pestis - Fleas
The plague bacterium (Yersinia pestis) is transmitted by fleas and is regularly seen in wild rodents.
2. Where is it seen now?
United - States - Arizona - California - Colorado
It occurs naturally in the western United States, including Arizona, California, Colorado and New Mexico. Plague bacteria survive for prolonged periods in the soil, where burrowing rodents might directly acquire it.
3. What are the forms?
Bubonic - Plague - Form - Bite - Flea
Bubonic plague is the most common form – it usually occurs after the bite of an infected flea. The key symptom is a swollen, painful lymph node, usually in the groin, armpit or neck. If it goes untreated, it can spread to the rest of the body as septicemic plague or pneumonic plague.
Septicemic plague happens when plague bacteria multiply in the bloodstream. It can quickly cause shock and organ failure, leading to death.
Bacteria - Lungs - Plague
If the bacteria reach the lungs, it causes pneumonic plague, which is also almost always fatal if not treated properly.
4. How would you get it?
People - Bites - Fleas - Animals - Dogs
People get it through the bites of infected fleas, by touching or skinning infected animals (such as prairie dogs, squirrels, rats and rabbits), or inhaling droplets from the cough of an infected person or animal (particularly sick cats).
5. What are the symptoms?
Fevers - Aches - Pains - Chills - Swollen
High fevers, aches and pains, chills, swollen and painful lymph nodes and weakness are some of the common symptoms.
Septicemic plague can...
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