Two counties in Arizona have fleas that tested positive for the plague, local officials warn. The plague is infamous for having killed millions of people during the Middle Ages.
Navajo County and Coconino County public health authorities confirmed that fleas in their respective areas have tested positive for the plague, ABC News reports. Both counties are in northern Arizona.
A public health warning states, “Navajo County Health Department is urging the public to take precautions to reduce their risk of exposure to this serious disease, which can be present in fleas, rodents, rabbits and predators that feed upon these animals.” It added,
The disease can be transmitted to humans and other animals by the bite of an infected flea or by direct contact with an infected animal.
People who are living, working or visiting these areas should take the utmost precautions to decrease their risk of contracting this rare disease, authorities further say. These include avoiding contact with sick or dead animals, staying away from rodent-infested places, and keeping pets from straying away from home.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this is not the first time the plague has been recorded in the country. Research has shown that there have been occasional outbreaks of the plague in southwestern states in the USA, like Arizona, especially during cool summers that follow wet winters.
The plague is caused by bacteria called Yersinia pestis, and can be spread through direct contact, air, or in rare cases, through contaminated food. Symptoms vary according to the infected areas in each person, but they include sudden high fever, headaches, chills, tender and painful lymph nodes, and weakness. The infection is treatable is diagnosed early. If left untreated, however, the disease can quickly spread to other parts of the body.
The kind of plague that swept through the Middle Ages was the bubonic plague, which later became known as the “Black Death.”