View Full Version : Dead animals can getya

November 10, 2007, 05:20 PM
On the news: An Arizona biologist has died of bubonic plague after performing an autopsy on a mountain lion. I don't think many members of this board perform autopsies, but a bunch of you disassemble deer and whatnot at about this time of the year. The symptoms start off sounding like flu -- which got this biologist sent home. If you develop flu-like symptoms within days of dressing an animal, TELL YOUR DOCTOR ABOUT IT. Give him a chance to help you. Bubonic plague is endemic in almost all mammals in the southwest. It killed between one fourth and one third of the human population in Europe during one epidemic in the 14th Century. It is a horrible way to die, and can be cured rather easily if identified in time.

November 10, 2007, 06:17 PM
Ah dude, that's messed up!

When I was growing up I lived in a small Cathedral city in the South of England called Winchester (yeah, like the rifle:cool:). In the 14th century the plague hit it hard and killed so many people that they dug a huge mass grave on the other side of a large hill which had one been an iron age hill fort.

To this day no one is prepared to dig into the ground because they've really no idea what kind of biohazard might be down there.

At least, that's what my dad told be when I was 8...

Double Naught Spy
November 10, 2007, 07:16 PM
The biologist was doing a necropsy when he contracted plague. This is a very unusual way to get it. Note, this biologist developed his flu like symptoms and did go to the doctor who was familiar with the biologist's work and the symptoms were misdiagnosed. Telling your doctor may not always be successful, in other words.


Officials from Grand Canyon National Park announced on Friday that Eric York, a 37-year-old wildlife biologist for the National Park Service, died of plague after being misdiagnosed with flu. Apparently he got Yersinia pestis during an autopsy of a mountain lion (cougar) on Oct. 27.

Three days later, on Oct. 30, he showed up at the Grand Canyon Clinic, located on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, with flu-like symptoms and was diagnosed as such and sent home. He was found dead in his home on Nov. 2 and his autopsy showed infection with Yersinia pestis, the Gram-negative bacillus bacterium which causes bubonic plague.

Grand Canyon National Park spokeswoman Pamela Walls said 49 people, including co-workers and roommates but no park visitors, are known to have had contact with York, and they have been put on antibiotics, but none has shown symptoms of the disease.

York worked in the park's cougar collaring program. During the Oct. 27 necropsy of a cougar which had died from the plague, he was exposed to its internal organs.

This is a highly unusual way of getting infected. Normally, infection in humans occurs when a person is bitten by a flea that has been infected by biting a rodent that itself has been infected by the bite of a flea carrying the disease.

The pneumonic plague has initial symptoms such as headache, weakness, and coughing with hemoptysis, which are virtually indistinguishable from other respiratory illnesses. However, unlike flu, lung infection with Yersinia pestis can be fatal in one to six days and mortality in untreated cases is more than 50 percent.

also see http://focosi.altervista.org/pathobacteria_yersiniapestis.html

November 11, 2007, 08:59 AM
Is this disease carried by very many animals or just wild cats and other predatory animals? Also is it area specific?

Double Naught Spy
November 11, 2007, 09:44 AM
It is now endemic in the SW USA and a few people die of it yearly. Aside from the SW, it occurs across the western US (and associated areas of adjoining countries). It loves to reside in rodent populations, but can infect a variety of other animals as well. Interestingly, pigs, cattle, and sheep seem to be immune.

It can be transmitted to carnivores that prey on infected animals such as rodents, FYI, but fleas are the common transmitter.

Fat White Boy
November 11, 2007, 05:42 PM
Tony Hillerman wrote a good book about Bubonic Plague called "First Eagle". If you have never read Hillerman's novels about the Navajo Police, you are in for a treat...

Dave Haven
November 11, 2007, 10:47 PM
Prairie dogs are common carriers of bubonic plague.