The Plague

Whenever I go camping, I have a list of essential items I need to pack. Insect repellent is one of the main items on that list, particularly because I don’t want any sorts of bugs bothering me. After reading articles about the Black Death being spread by fleas, I’d wear insect repellent as a safety precaution from whatever those insects could be spreading. It is better to be safe than sorry.

The Black death is caused by a bacteria called Yersina pestis, and is spread from rodents or fleas. During the Middle Ages, the amount of rodents living on board ships and among people greatly exceeded the amount there are today. Sailors most likely caught the disease from the rats on board their ships, hence when the 12 Genoese trading ships came back to Europe from their long journey through the Black Sea, the sailors on those ships were either dead or nearly dead. This started the beginning of the plague, which  later killed “more than 20 million people in Europe–almost one-third of the continent’s population” (BLACK DEATH). This disease spread quickly from person to person; one could catch it by simply brushing against the clothing of the infected person.

Although there were four deaths recorded in 2015, today the plague is a rare disease. The most recent death caused by the plague occurred in Utah; the victim a male in his seventies (MICHELLE L. PRICE). Despite the rarity of the disease, there is still a need for precautionary measures. According to the Department of Health, Black Death has been detected in many Utah rodents, more so the Utah prairie dogs of which, 60-80 were killed by the plague in the eastern Utah colony ( MICHELLE L. PRICE). This astounding number verifies the presence of the disease, and calls for awareness about the issue. Just like Utah, Minnesota is a common home for prairie dogs, and therefore affects Minnesotans as well.

Minnesota is also home to many popular camping locations and hunting season. For this reason, Minnesotans, including me, should stay on the safe side and wear bug repellent when camping in rural areas. Minnesotan hunters should be extra careful when handling dead animals.They should wear gloves when coming in contact with a dead animal, thoroughly sanitize any tools used to prepare the animal as a meal, and lastly, cook the animal to the appropriate temperature to kill off any bacteria. A dangerous disease like the Black Death is not one that people should behave carelessly around.

History.com Staff. “Black Death.” History.com. A&E Television Networks, 01 Jan. 2010. Web. 21 Apr. 2016.

PRICE, MICHELLE L. “Utah Man Dies from Plague in 4th Fatal Case in US This Year.” Utah Man Dies from Plague in 4th Fatal Case in US This Year. N.p., 27 Aug. 2015. Web. 21 Apr. 2016.

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