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article imageUniversity Scientist's Death Possibly Caused by Bubonic Plague

By Kevin Jess     Sep 21, 2009 in Health
A Chicago university scientist has died, possibly due to exposure to bacteria related to the bubonic plague. Health officials say there are no signs of other infections.
Malcolm Casadaban, 60, died Sept. 13 after he was exposed to a weakened form of the plague causing bacteria. The strain he was studying is federally approved for lab studies.
There is no sign of any spread of the disease but co-workers, family, and friends of the genetic researcher have been given antibiotics as a precaution.
Health officials say that while it's very unlikely for anyone else to have been infected, local health authorities along with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention have sealed off the scientist's lab and are still investigating.
According to an Associated Press interview with a Chicago Department of Public Health spokesman on Monday, the window for another possible infection happening is almost over.
Bubonic plague kills about half of infected patients in 3 to 7 days without treatment, and is believed by many to be the Black Death that swept through Europe in the 1340s, killing tens of millions of people.
According to WebMD, interest in Bubonic Plague has heightened, in recent years, by the awareness of its "potential use as an agent of biological warfare."
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