I was getting on the Dart to travel back from Sydney Parade to Glasthule when I stumbled across this rather exceptional story in Metro*:
A second man has died of pneumonic plague in northwest China, in an outbreak that prompted authorities to lock down a town where about a dozen people were infected with the highly contagious deadly lung disease, a state news agency said.
And if you think that is the worst of it, how do you like this:
Pneumonic plague is spread through the air and can be passed from person to person through coughing, according to the World Health Organization. It is caused by the same bacteria that occurs in bubonic plague — the Black Death that killed an estimated 25 million people in Europe during the Middle Ages.
Bubonic plague is usually transmitted by flea bite and can be treated with antibiotics if diagnosed early. Pneumonic plague is one of the deadliest infectious diseases, capable of killing humans within 24 hours of infection, according to the WHO.
Worrying no. Some quality material on the plague is available on Google Books in case you are in the humour for digging and reading:
THE most memorable example of what has been advanced is afforded by a great pestilence of the fourteenth century which desolated Asia Europe and Africa and of which the people yet preserve the remembrance in gloomy traditions It was an oriental plague marked by inflammatory boils and tumors of the glands such as break out in no other febrile disease On account of these inflammatory boils and from the black spots indicatory of a putrid decomposition which appeared upon the skin it was called in Germany and in the northern kingdoms of Europe the Black Death and in Italy la Mortalega Grande the Great Mortality
The Black Death in the fourteenth century. By Justus Friedrich Carl Hecker, Benjamin Guy Babington
There is much, much more, all of it worth reading. I think, this is a limited outbreak I stress and expect that it will not, unlike the Swine Flue Virus we are currently experiencing, cause widespread fear and panic.
* The link is to the Yahoo News version of the story, Metro is not online.