The newest case of an American coming down with the plague has been confirmed by the Department of Health. The diagnosis was confirmed in Michigan on Monday. The infected resident lives in Marquette County, which is located in Northern Michigan along Lake Superior, but had recently returned from a trip to Colorado—an area that saw plague cases earlier this year.
The Michigan diagnosis marks the 14th recorded plague case this year. Normally, the United States sees approximately seven each year, making this year’s diagnoses double the recent average but not yet a record number. Between 1970 and 2012, most of the U.S. plague cases have been in the Western states, like New Mexico, Arizona, and Colorado. Any exceptions have been from nearby Western or Southwestern states, or from a lab exposure, as was the case with one Illinois diagnosis. It is currently believed that the Michigan resident caught the plague from their Colorado trip, rather than from within their home state.
If Colorado is confirmed as the state of origin of this most recent case, it will be the fourth case the state has seen this year. Previously, a teenager in Larimer County and an adult in Pueblo County contracted and died of the plague.
Not all of the year’s plague cases have been fatal, however. A child who caught the plague while at California’s Yosemite National Park successfully recovered, as did a second unnamed person.
While notorious for the mass deaths of people in medieval Europe (recall the “Black Plague”), the plague is highly treatable with modern medicine—especially if caught early. Antibiotics have come a long way since the 14th century. For those in western or southwestern states, keeping pets clean of fleas and avoiding animals displaying signs of illness are some small ways to reduce one’s risk of contracting the plague.
Source for Today’s Article:
Botelho, G., “Bubonic Plague Reported in Michigan, ” CNN web site, September 14, 2015; http://www.cnn.com/2015/09/14/health/michigan-plague/.