Quit stressing about Ebola – The bubonic plague is next

OK. Ebola has gotten the nation and the world into a total frenzy, but of course, we’ve got yet another thing to worry about. The bubonic plague, a bacterial disease carried by rodents and passed to humans by flea bites, has now killed 40 people in Madagascar and is spreading, according to the World Health […]

OK. Ebola has gotten the nation and the world into a total frenzy, but of course, we’ve got yet another thing to worry about.

The bubonic plague, a bacterial disease carried by rodents and passed to humans by flea bites, has now killed 40 people in Madagascar and is spreading, according to the World Health Organization.

As of Nov. 16, 119 people have been infected. If caught early enough, it can be treated with antibiotics, but the part that makes it even scarier than Ebola is that two percent of the Madagascan cases are in the more dangerous pneumonic form, which can be spread between humans through coughing.

The WHO said that there was a risk of a “rapid spread” in the Madagascan capital Antananarivo. The risk has been exacerbated by an increased resistance to a widely-used insecticide — deltamethrin — among fleas.

“The Black Death” is something straight out of the history books. First occurring around 1330 in China, which then spread to Europe, the plague apparently killed 25 million people in just five years. Once people are infected, they infect others very rapidly. the plague has symptoms of fever and a painful swelling of the lymph glands called buboes (how it gets its name). The disease also causes spots on the skin that are red at first and then turn black.

We don’t want to be a source for hyping up paranoia, but this is getting a little bit intense.

[Photo from flickr user Jean-Jacques Boujot]