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The Plague is Re-emerging Worldwide

By ashley.woods4     Jan 15, 2008 in Health
Researchers warned Tuesday that the plague is re-emerging worldwide and poses a growing but overlooked threat. The plague has only killed 100 to 200 people over the last 20 years, but the plague is now shifting to Africa.
In Medieval Times the bubonic plague was coined as the Black Death and was thought to be spread by infected fleas. The bubonic plague was called the Black Plague because of the black bumps that sometimes form on the victims' body, causing severe vomiting and a high fever. A bacterium known as Yersinia pestis causes bubonic plague and the more dangerous pneumonic plague is spread by coughing or sneezing. Victims of pneumonic plague have similar symptoms to those with the bubonic plague but not the black bumps.
Rodents also carry the plague, which is virtually impossible to wipe out. It moves through the animal community quite rapidly and is a constant threat to humanity.
Michael Begon, an ecologist at the University of Liverpool, says if left untreated, both forms of the plague can result in death if not treated with antibiotics within days.
"Although the number of human cases of plague is relatively low, it would be a mistake to overlook its threat to humanity, because of the disease's inherent communicability, rapid spread, rapid clinical course, and high mortality if left untreated," they wrote in the journal Public Library of Science journal PloS Medicine.
The World Health Organization reports 1,000 to 3,000 plague cases a year globally. In the last five years most of the cases have occurred in Madagascar, Tanzania, Mozambique, Malawi, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. On the other hand, the United States only sees about 10 to 20 cases a year.
Begon and his colleagues have called for more research in order to discover ways to better prevent the plague.
"We should not overlook the fact that plague has been weaponized throughout history, from catapulting corpses over city walls, to dropping infected fleas from airplanes, to refined modern aerosol formulation," the researchers wrote.
More about Black death, Plague, Bubonic plague