Bubonic Plague Reported in Michigan

This is what causes the plague. Yersinia pestis bacteria, colored in purple, are seen on the spines inside a flea's digestive system. (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease)

This is what causes the plague. Yersinia pestis bacteria, colored in purple, are seen on the spines inside a flea’s digestive system. (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease)

Bubonic Plague reported in Michigan

The bubonic plague has been reported for the first time ever in the state of Michigan. The Detroit Free Press and CNN are both reporting that the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced Monday that a person in The Wolverine State has been officially diagnosed with the rare, but potentially fatal, flea-borne disease. This brings the 2012 tally of reported cases of Bubonic plague to 14, double the recent average, but not a record. What makes this particular case so puzzling to health officials is that the majority of the cases reported between 1970 and 2012 have been concentrated in the western and southwestern U.S. in New Mexico, Arizona, and Colorado. The fact that this victim is located in Marquette County along Lake Superior seems to have presented doctors with an infectious knuckle-ball.

CDC map showing locations of bubonic plague cases. (CDC)

CDC map showing locations of bubonic plague cases. (CDC)

How did the Patient Become Infected with Bubonic Plague?

Though diagnosed in Michigan, the patient may have contracted the plague elsewhere. The state agency has noted that he or she, “recently returned from Colorado in an area with reported plague activity,” which would more closely align with the CDC map of reported cases. Earlier this year, a Larimer County teenager and an adult in Pueblo County, Colorado, died from the disease. What would be most troubling about the current case is if it is somehow proven that the patient contracted the plague within the state of Michigan, suggesting that the the disease could be making its way across the country.

Contraction and Symptoms of Bubonic Plague

People are most often infected with bubonic plague by bites from infected fleas or direct contact with tissues or body fluids from an infected animal. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, the highest risk for contracting the plague is in settings that offer food and shelter for rodents — campsites and cabins, for example. Physical symptoms of the bubonic plague include one or more swollen, tender, and painful lymph nodes usually located in the groin, armpit, or neck.

⇒SIDE READING ~Plague: The Mysterious Past and Terrifying Future of the World’s Most Dangerous Disease ~sls ⇐

The Michigan case did not develop into the more contagious pulmonary form of the plague that can be passed between humans, infecting the lungs and causing a rapidly developing pneumonia that can lead to respiratory failure and shock, per the CDC. Another form of the bubonic plague, septicemic, occurs when the plague organism multiplies in the blood, which can lead to shock, organ failure, and sometimes death.

Could the Government be at Fault?

This breaking news follows a recent report that U.S. military labs may have mishandled the bubonic plague.
Last Thursday, a Pentagon spokesperson revealed that the U.S. Department of Defense is looking into the possibility of mishandling of bubonic plague and equine encephalitis samples at its laboratories. The department has not yet determined whether samples containing plague bacteria and specimens of the deadly virus were shipped out from its labs. Coincidence?

The last anomalous case of the bubonic plague in Illinois was lab-associated, as opposed to a human-to-human transmission. The rest of the cases reported this year better fit the CDC’s traditional pattern of bubonic plague reports. The bubonic plague is extremely rare, and most of the fear invoked by it is due in-part to its connection to the microorganism that caused the horrific Black Death in Europe in the 1300s. Officials are reassuring the public there is no such cause for alarm.

“Truly there is no risk to anyone,” said Jennifer Smith, a spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. “This is not something that occurs to Michigan. This is a person who contracted this while they were away, and the individual is making a recovery and is not a public health issue.”

Are you reassured by the statements issued by the Department of Health? Are you worried about the potential of the bubonic plague heading to a town near you? We’ll keep you updated on the latest disease developments at darkmatternews.com. Share your thoughts below and join the discussion on Twitter using #DMTalk.

Staff Writer

Leo Ashcraft

A retired broadcast engineer, talk show host, news reporter - I have done everything there is to do in the radio broadcast business. I worked a year in television. I left that as my true passion has always been radio - plus I got tired of hearing - you have a face for radio.. I hope you enjoy my articles! Be sure to share them excessively on facebook - like our page and bug your friends with invites!

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