The Black Death, bubonic plague, killed as many as 200 million people in the 1300’s. It is relatively rare now, but the first case in 26 years has recently been reported in the United States. The affected boy was hospitalized and given antibiotics and is now back at home recovering. Drugs have reduced the death rate from the illness to about eleven percent, down from 65 percent when left untreated.
Bubonic plague is caused by the Yersinia pestis bacterium and can spread to humans through infected fleas. Ground squirrels in Idaho have tested positive for plague in recent years.
“People can decrease their risk by treating their pets for fleas and avoiding contact with wildlife. Wear insect repellent, long pants, and socks when visiting plague-affected areas,” said epidemiologist Sarah Correll.