Fleas in two Arizona counties tested positive for the plague, the same catastrophic Bubonic disease that killed millions, according to officials.
Navajo County Public Health officials confirmed on Friday that fleas in the region tested positive for the disease following similar reports from Coconino County Public Health Services District in Arizona.
Both are located in the northern part of the state.
‘Navajo County Health Department is urging the public to take precautions to reduce their risk of exposure to this serious disease, which can be present in fleas, rodents, rabbits and predators that feed upon these animals,’ the public health warning states.
‘The disease can be transmitted to humans and other animals by the bite of an infected flea or by direct contact with an infected animal.’
To reduce risk of exposure, officials have urged those living, working, camping or visiting the area to take precaution.
This includes avoiding sick or dead animals, not letting pets roam and avoiding rodent burrows.
While the news may shock those familiar with horror stories of the plague, findings such as these are actually fairly common in the area.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states through studies that outbreaks occasionally occur in southwestern US states like Arizona during cooler summers following wet winters.
Symptons of the Bubonic plague include sudden fever, headache, chills, and weakness and one or more swollen, tender and painful lymph nodes, according to the CDC. The bacteria can spread to other parts of the body if untreated.
BUBONIC PLAGUE WIPED OUT A THIRD OF
EUROPE IN THE 14TH CENTURY
Bubonic plague killed around 100 million people during the 14th century and was known as the ‘Black Death.’
Drawings and paintings from the outbreak, which wiped out about a third of the European population, depict town criers saying ‘bring out your dead’ while dragging trailers piled with infected corpses.
It is caused by a bacterium known as Yersinia pestis, which uses the flea as a host and is usually transmitted to humans via rats.
The disease causes grotesque symptoms such as gangrene and the appearance of large swellings on the groin, armpits or neck, known as ‘buboes’.
It kills up to two thirds of sufferers within just four days if it is not treated, although if antibiotics are administered within 24 hours of infection patients are highly likely to survive.
After the Black Death arrived in 1347 plague became a common phenomenon in Europe, with outbreaks recurring regularly until the 18th century.
Bubonic plague has almost completely vanished from the developed world, with 90 per cent of all cases now found in Africa.