Four people and a dog in Colorado might be the first instance of person-to-person transmission of the Bubonic Plague in the United States in 90 years. It started with a sick pit bull, and its owner, two vet techs and a close personal contact of the dog’s owner all ended up infected. The two veterinary technicians who treated the dog and got respiratory infections had to treat themselves with antibiotics which means that transmission from human to human is definite.
After the dog owner was diagnosed with the plague, they were checked and put on extra intravenous antibiotics to be certain they were cured of the infection.
The disease could only happen through the Yersinia pestis bacteria that causes the plague and is usually passed along in flea bites, the pneumonic form that infects the lungs can be transmitted by little droplets in a cough or through other close contact which is what is most concerning.
Yet the dog owner tested positive and showed he was infected by Yersinia pestis (which circulates among wild rodent populations). This is the same pest that caused the Black Death, the plague was one of the most devastating panemics in human history, resulting in the deaths of an estimated 75 to 200 million people and peaking in Europe in the years 1346–53. The last documented case of human-to-human transmission of plague in the U.S. was during an outbreak in Los Angeles in 1924. Once the disease among humans, the disease can be spread through cough just as the common cold.
Pneumonic plague kills about 93 percent of people who catch it if they don’t receive medical treatment, the researchers said. But it’s also very uncommon: The U.S. had 74 reported cases of pneumonic plague between 1900 and 2012, the researchers said.
While the fear of Bubonic Plague is diminished because of antibiotic, other diseases brings much concern. On March 24 a report by Thomson Reuters Foundation said that “over the next 35 years, multidrug-resistant tuberculosis will kill 75 million people and could cost the global economy a cumulative $16.7 trillion – the equivalent of the European Union’s annual output,” a UK parliamentary group said last month.
If left untackled, the spread of drug-resistant TB superbugs threatens to shrink the world economy by 0.63 percent annually, the UK All Party Parliamentary Group on Global Tuberculosis (APPG TB) said, urging governments to do more to improve research and cooperation.
“The rising global burden of multidrug-resistant TB and other drug-resistant infections will come at a human and economic cost which the global community simply cannot afford to ignore,” economist Jim O’Neill said in a statement.
In addition, two hours ago, a new report, Worldwide country situation analysis: Response to antimicrobial resistance, which outlines the survey findings, revealed that while much activity is underway and many governments are committed to addressing the problem, there are major gaps in actions needed across all six WHO regions to prevent the misuse of antibiotics and reduce spread of antimicrobial resistance.
This month, one study warns:
“Antibiotic resistance has been called one of the world’s most pressing public health problems,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Almost every type of bacteria has become stronger and less responsive to antibiotic treatment when it is really needed. … For this reason, antibiotic resistance is among CDC’s top concerns.”
Antibiotic resistance was thought to be a battle for the modern world — a first-world problem facing a pampered civilization of helicopter parents and germophobes eager for prescriptions to battle the common cold. But a new study shows that even those who can’t get antibiotics harbor bacteria that can be resistant to them, and the implications for public health may be huge.
Still yet, doctors and vets alike are warned to be on the lookout for the bubonic plague when animals or people have unusual respiratory symptoms and have been in possible contact with rodents such as prairie dogs or squirrels.
Today all forms of this plague can be treated with antibiotics but early and proper diagnosis must be diagnosed properly. The hope is of course, that antibiotics will always work, especially since as reports warn that “Almost every type of bacteria has become stronger and less responsive to antibiotic treatment”.
Madagascar is currently experiencing an outbreak of the plague of the Black Death where in 2014 there were 119 cases and 40 deaths.
“There is now a risk of a rapid spread of the disease due to the city’s high population density and the weakness of the healthcare system,” the WHO warned in a press release, adding that the local flea population has developed a high resistance to deltamethrin, a popular insecticide.
It is not unusual these days to test positive for bubonic plague and the issue is not only in Colorado. Public health officials in Arizona say fleas collected in Picture Canyon, a popular hiking area northeast of Flagstaff, have tested positive for bubonic plague.
Marlene Gaither, environmental health program manager for Coconino County Public Health Services District (CCPHSD) when asked as to the unusual occurrence of plague in northern Arizona she answered “Your guess is as good as anyone’s,” she said. “The environment, the rodent population, possibly the season may explain this …”
But maybe, just perhaps, that diseases will pop up here and there as it was predicted in the Bible?
Public health officials most likely would refuse to comment.