As 2020 Concerns Continue to Grow, Learn to Protect Yourself, Loved Ones & Pets from the Spread of the Plague
Another day, another threatening disease making the headlines.
It feels like it was only yesterday when we learned the importance of protecting ourselves against the novel coronavirus and the impending fears associated with Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE).
Needless to say, 2020 has certainly been a whirlwind of scares.
But it’s time for us to turn our attention to the bubonic plague, also known as Black Death.
Yes, the disease responsible for the death of 50 million Europeans during the Middle Ages.
What is the Bubonic Plague?
The bubonic plague first appeared in Europe during October 1347 when ships from the Black Sea docked at the Sicilian port of Messina.
The sailors on board were either deceased or gravely ill and covered in black boils.
Even before the ships docked, rumors had spread about a “Great Pestilence” making its way through the trade routes. The disease hit China, India, and Egypt before making its way to Europe.
Shortly after the deadly ships arrived in Messina, the bubonic plague spread to the port of Marseilles in France and the port of Tunis in North Africa.
From there, it spread to Rome and Florence. By the middle of 1348 the plague had spread to Paris, Bordeaux, Lyon, and London — leaving a path of death and destruction behind.
The deadly disease didn’t appear in the United States until the turn of the 20th century. Wong Chut, a 41-year-old man who lived in San Francisco was the first victim of the plague. He died in March 1900 from the disease.
Talking about it is enough to make your stomach turn and something we didn’t think would be something to worry about in the modern era.
Confirmed Cases of the Bubonic Plague
Sadly, the bubonic plague is still a concern.
In fact, there were confirmed cases of the plague in the United States in 2019.
But now the Chinese region of Inner Mongolia is on high alert after a case of the disease was confirmed on July 5, 2020.
The case was first discovered in the city of Bayannur, which is located northwest of Beijing. The herdsman is said to be in stable condition undergoing treatment at a hospital.
Local authorities have issued a citywide warning for plague prevention. The warning will stay in place until at least December 2020.
Bayannur authorities have been warned residents against transporting, hunting, or consuming potentially infected animals — marmots in particular.
Marmots, which look like overgrown squirrels, are believed to be the cause of the 1911 pneumonic plague epidemic in northeast China.
To make matters worse, a second case was confirmed in Mongolia on July 6, 2020 after a 15-year-old consumed an infected marmot.
When we think of the plague, we think of it as a disease that occurred nearly 700 years ago. Unfortunately, the threat is still very real and current.
Since the plague is most commonly spread by infected rodents, proper nuisance wildlife removal and exclusion is imperative regardless of where you live. Protecting your home and loved ones is a top-priority for Catseye technicians.
What Causes the Bubonic Plague?
The bacteria that causes the plague is known as Yersinia pestis and can be transmitted in a multitude of ways. The bacteria was discovered at the end of the 19th century by French biologist Alexandre Yersin.
Even though the plague hasn’t surfaced in the United States yet this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urges U.S. citizens to know and understand how to prevent the bubonic plague from spreading.
Most frequently, plague bacteria are transmitted when an infected flea bites a human, rodent, or other animal.
Once the rodent dies, the infected fleas leave in search of a new host. Dogs and cats are at a higher risk of carrying these fleas into the home.
With this in mind, it’s important to monitor your pets for possible fleas.
People and animals visiting or living in places where infected rodents have died are at a higher risk of being infected from flea bites.
Humans can quickly become infected from handling tissue or bodily fluids of a plague-infected animal.
If you find a deceased animal on your property, or suspect your home is suffering from a wildlife infestation, it’s imperative to leave removal and cleanup to the professionals.
Catseye Pest Control technicians have the necessary equipment and knowledge to handle rodent removal, cleanout, and restoration.
A person who has been infected with the bubonic plague is likely to spread the bacteria into the air while coughing.
This is the only way the plague can spread between people. Although it has not been a documented occurrence in America since 1924, it is still common in other areas of the world.
Extra precaution should be taken when exposed to someone with bubonic plague symptoms.
Cats are susceptible to contracting bubonic plague through hunting and ultimately eating infected rodents. Owners and veterinarians should practice extreme caution if their feline friends spend time outdoors hunting.
Bubonic Plague Symptoms
People who have contracted the bubonic plague will develop a sudden onset of symptoms.
Plague symptoms include headache, weakness, fever, and chills. They can also experience swollen, tender, and pain in their lymph nodes.
The bacteria from the infected flea bite will multiply in the lymph node that is closest to the area of the bite.
Even though the plague killed millions of Europeans in the Middle Ages, modern antibiotics can help prevent complications or death if quickly administered.
If the patient is not treated, the bacteria can spread to other areas of the body. Symptoms left untreated could lead to death.
Symptoms in pets can include enlarged lymph glands, swelling, fever, chills, tiredness, coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration.
Animals suffering from suspected symptoms should receive immediate treatment from a veterinarian.
How to Prevent the Bubonic Plague from Spreading
The primary source for spreading the plague is infected rodents, so it’s important to keep nuisance wildlife out of your home.
Mice, rats, and other rodents will take advantage of your home, shed or garage because it is source of shelter, nesting materials, and food.
Even if the critter taking up space in your home is not infected with the bacterium, Yersinia pestis, they still have the potential to spread other bacteria and diseases.
Other diseases and bacteria spread by rodents include hantavirus pulmonary syndrome and Lassa fever. It is also possible the rodent is carrying an infected flea but hasn’t been bitten yet.
To protect your home from a potential infestation, contact a pest and wildlife professional immediately for rodent control and removal services.