Narrator: This is Science Today. Plague - a disease that has caused three world epidemics during the course of human history and killed millions of people - is still endemic in some parts of the world. Researcher Bert Weinstein of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has developed a quick detection system for plague, which he says really is a nefarious disease.
Weinstein: It manages to make its living by killing all of its hosts. It kills the flea essentially by starving it to death and causing the flea to want to bite everything it can in sight because it's trying to feed and in the process, spreading the disease, then it kills the other animals - rodents, or in the case of humans - humans. And if there are any fleas on those animals, when the animal dies, they jump off going looking for new hosts.
Weinstein says another problem with plague is the
generality of the flu-like symptoms.
Weinstein: Plague is very treatable with antibiotics if caught early, so I think the main thing is just being aware of any potential exposure.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.