ZocdocAnswersAre there forms of the bubonic plague that I can catch?

Question

Are there forms of the bubonic plague that I can catch?

Can the bubonic plague still kill people? If so, is it in America?

Answer

he bubonic plague is a fascinating and famous illness, mostly for being the cause of the "black death" that killed a substantial proportion of the population or Europe in the 1300's. The disease is caused by a bacteria named Yersinia Pestis and is transmitted from its home reservoir in rats to humans via the bite of a flea. It is named for the black swollen nodes that appear on its victims, most frequently in the groin, armpits, and neck. In modern times, cases of the plague are far less frequent than they have been historically; about 1000-3000 cases are reported every year. It is most common in Asia, particularly in India, although it is found on almost every continent. There have been reported cases in the USA in recent years, and the CDC reports that areas which continue to have cases of the plague include an area that includes northern Arizona, northern New Mexico and southern Colorado, as well as another region that includes California, southern Oregon, and western Nevada. However, it remains exceedingly rare and the origin of these cases is not perfectly clear. There are treatments for bubonic plague today which markedly reduce your chance of dying from the disease, especially with early treatment.

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