SALT LAKE CITY, UT – An ancient plague is plaguing Utah and other western states. A Utah man in his seventies became the fourth person to die of plague in the U.S. this year.
Health officials think he may have been bitten by an infected flea or touched a dead animal.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says six states have reported 11 cases since April 1.
Anywhere from one to 17 cases have been reported each year since 2000.
But no more than two people have died in any given year this century.
The Black Death, spread by infected fleas, killed more than 20 million Europeans in the mid-fourteenth century, about a third of the continent’s population.
The Great Plague of 1665 to 1666 was England’s last major outbreak of Bubonic plague.
As many as 100,000 died in London, about 20 percent of the city’s population.
Prairie dogs, not rats, are the usual suspects for plague in western states.
Health official say a few of this year’s 11 victims came down with plague after visiting California’s Yosemite Park.
So, just make sure you singe the fur before you fry up some prairie dog. It’s a good way to flee from any flea that could make you sick and die.