Around a dozen cases, 3 deaths, as pneumonic plague kills up its heels in NW China. This is a disease that hygiene can help prevent. Get rid of the rodents and their fleas and plague disappears.
Plague is spread in two main forms, pneumonic – which is the form reported in China, and bubonic. Pneumonic plague is spread like many respiratory diseases, by being coughed or sneezed on by a sick person.
Bubonic plague can be found in the United States, almost entirely in the Southwest. It is spread by the bites of fleas, usually fleas from rats, mice or other rodents. The number of human cases varies with the natural increases or decreases in rodent populations. The NIH reports 10-20 cases of bubonic plague in the U.S. on average each year. 1 of 7 cases is fatal.
Pneumonic plague appears as a rapid onset pneumonia, with all the related symptoms, fever, shortness of breath, coughing and sometimes bloody sputum. It is very contagious for people who have close contact with the patient. The Y. pestis bacteria cannot survive longer than about an hour in open air and sunlight so personal contact is the most risky.