Fleas In Two Arizona Counties Tested Positive for Plague

Bubonic plague.

Fleas in two Arizona counties are carrying bubonic plague, an infectious disease that took the lives of millions of people in the Middle Ages, according to news reports. So far there have been no reported illness and deaths.

Health officials in Navajo and Coconino counties in Arizona recently issued a warning to the general public after fleas in the northern part of the state tested positive for Yersinia pestis, the bacteria that causes the bubonic plague. Humans can contract the plague in a number of ways. In addition to flea bites, people can pick up the bacteria by handling the fluids or tissue of a rodent or another animal that has the illness. The plague can also be transmitted through bodily fluids such as respiratory droplets.

“Navajo County Health Department is urging the public to take precautions to reduce their risk of exposure to this serious disease, which can be present in fleas, rodents, rabbits and predators that feed upon these animals,” the public health warning states, ABC news reported. “The disease can be transmitted to humans and other animals by the bite of an infected flea or by direct contact with an infected animal.”  NewsWeek

Plague cases only occur out west.

Most human cases in the United States occur in two regions:

Northern New Mexico, northern Arizona, and southern Colorado, California, southern Oregon, and far western Nevada.  CDC

Map source CDC

Plague cases in the United States, 1970–2012. Since the mid–20th century, plague in the United States has typically occurred in the rural West. The case shown in Illinois was lab-associated.  CDC

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