California drought implicated in rising incidence of plague in U.S.?

California drought implicated in rising incidence of plague in U.S.?
Yersinia pestis, the plague bacterium. (Image via Global Bioefense)

An unusual resurgence of the plague in the United States this year has left three dead and eight others sickened across six states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Since April 1, 11 total cases of the plague have been reported in Colorado (4), Arizona (2), New Mexico (2), Oregon (1), Georgia (1) and California (1), according to the CDC’s most recent Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Three people have reportedly died of the illness, including two in Colorado.

The cases in Georgia and California originated from visits to the Yosemite National Park, the CDC reported. …

The 11 cases reported so far this year are the most since 2006… There were an average of seven cases of plague per year between 1970 and 2012. …

Dr. Bruno Chomel, a professor at the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, told Fox News that California’s record drought may be playing a role in the increase in plague cases. Plague is often transmitted to humans through the bites of infected fleas, and rodents carrying those fleas may be scavenging for food near campgrounds as food options become scarce due to drought, Chomel told the outlet.

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