The Plague

3 08 2009

The plague. Sounds so 14th century, doesn’t it?

Two townsfolk in a rural area of China recently died of pneumonic plague, bringing it right into the 21st century.  Their small town is now sealed off from the world and it’s unknown for how long the quarantine will last.

There are three forms of plague:

  • Bubonic is the most common form and it causes swellings or tumors on the affected person’s neck, armpits or groin.  Infected fleas hopping a ride on rats and then humans are the common source of infection for this disease.
  • Pneumonic is a respiratory infection and can be spread just by breathing in the exhaled air of an infected person.  This is a very infectious and deadly form of plague.
  • Septicemic attacks the blood system but doesn’t spread from person to person.

The WHO isn’t too worried about the small outbreak and this makes sense.  For most people, this is not a potential health risk when stepping out the door each morning, and China’s quick actions will likely stop the spread of infection.

These days, diseases old and new seem to crop up with depressing regularity.  There are several things we can do to protect ourselves, including:

  • keeping our hands clean throughout the day with soap and water or hand sanitizer
  • covering our coughs and sneezes
  • talking to our healthcare provider to see what immunizations are right for our family members
  • using standard precautions in daily living

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