In news that is definitely not terrifying and definitely does not make us worried about the state of the planet and our future, the plague has made its return. So that's super great.
But don't worry, this isn't looking to be a modern day Black Death or anything — so far, three cases of plague were reported in New Mexico this year, two within the last week. But all three patients were treated in the hospital and have been released.
Also, it turns out that the plague never really went away. New Mexico saw four cases last year, and four the year before that (one of which was fatal). The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that an average of seven cases are reported each year, and that 80% are the bubonic form (the least deadly). While the bubonic plague was responsible for the Black Death that wiped out one-third of the population in the 1300s, modern day antibiotics make it much more treatable.
Not only that, the CDC identifies Northern New Mexico, northern Arizona, and southern Colorado as plague hot spots, due to the rural and semi-rural environment, along with the large numbers of rodents that hang out there. Plague is caused by a flea-dwelling bacterium that can jump from rodents to humans (or other animals) and infect them with a bite.
"Sometimes people think they can tough it out at home and they're gonna get better," Paul Ettestad, a public health veterinarian for the New Mexico state health department, told NPR. "What happens with plague is you kinda hang on, hang on, hang on and then suddenly the bacteria can spread into your bloodstream extremely quickly and it can overwhelm a person."
If you find yourself experiencing any symptoms like fever, headaches, overall weakness, chills, or swollen lymph nodes, it's best to seek medical care just to be on the safe side.
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