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Squirrel has the bubonic plague

The strain is very similar to the one that wiped out 200 million people in Europe during the 14th century.
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Michael Hiscock, July 26, 2013 1:11:54 PM

Black Death has risen from the grave.

Health officials in California announced yesterday that a squirrel tested positive for the bubonic plague, the same disease that killed an estimated 200 million people in Europe during the 14th century. The rodent was found covered with fleas and a rash, and had already succumbed to the virus.

But don’t panic. The world isn’t about to become a scene out of 28 Days Later. Scattered cases of the plague surprisingly pop up every year, mainly in rodents and wild animals, but sometimes in humans too. According to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 999 cases of probable or confirmed Black Death were found in humans between 1990 and 2010.

While the disease might have been an unstoppable force in the Medieval era, 21st century science simply uses antibiotics and a vaccine to destroy it now. But just in case you come down with a bad cold and find yourself frantically searching Google for symptoms of the plague, here’s how the disease generally affects the body:

  • The plague comes from a bacteria called Yersinia pestis, which is usually spread by fleas
  • Exposure will lead to swelling of the lymph nodes, which will evolve into bumps or ‘bubos’ in the groin, underarm or neck.
  • If not treated early, it can cause rapid blood poisoning and gangrene. It then reaches the lungs, where it becomes highly contagious by spreading through the air.
  • Death can occur in three days without treatment.

But seriously, just get the vaccine.

[Source] Image credit: ThinkStock photos

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