Even though the Plague is no longer very common, it is still around today. The CDC says there are about 1,000 to 3,000 cases of plague reported around the world every year. Five to fifteen of these cases occur each year on the western side of the United States.
An article by The Week talks about a seven-year-old girl who caught the bubonic plague. Doctors had trouble diagnosing it at first since the disease is so rare, but after comparing the symptoms and learning that she had just come back from camping, they realized what it was. The girl had been near a dead squirrel that happened to have the disease and fleas transferred it to her.
The primary source I found about the plague are some notes from the field on two plague cases that occurred in Oregon. Both residents happened to get the plague, and it was soon discovered that it came from one of their dogs that had the bacteria Y. Pestis. Fleas transferred it from the dog to the two patients while they were asleep. For this reason, the CDC says that flea control is recommended for pet owners, especially areas where the disease is a little more common. This really shows how easily the disease can transfer if you just happen to be around.
After reading these sources I realized that even though these cases aren’t common, it doesn’t mean that the conditions have to be really out there or extreme. Most causes are really simple things that we do in everyday life, but it might just so happen that someone gets catches it. People have gotten it from trips to other places, and from animals at home or during outdoor activities like camping.
So how does it affect us Minnesotans if cases are occurring only in the west? I actually found an article on Fox 6 News informing us that a case of Bubonic Plague was reported in Michigan in 2015. It is not known whether or not this Michigan resident got it while he was in Colorado or in Michigan, but either way, it shows us how this disease can move around. There is also a graph on this article, and it’s surprising to see that the number of plague cases has increased. It hasn’t increased by much but it is still kind of interesting.
Is the Plague something that we need to worry about? Since these cases are pretty rare the answer to this is no. If you are affected, and you catch it early on, it can be easily treated with antibiotics.