So my friend John posted these two posts (1, 2) with regards to squirrels found to have the bubonic plague in southern California.
It reminded me of a story the CIH (certified industrial hygienist) at Kleinfelder told us of work he did on a base in Wyoming or Colorado.
Their health and safety briefing including a warning to avoid the prairie dogs in the area. Apparently, prairie dogs are normally shy and keep their distance from humans. Unfortunately, the prairie dogs on the base were infected with bubonic plague, and the sicker ones were lethargic, and unable to flee from curious humans.
Now, we all in the modern age know how the plague was spread, and that the fleas would leave the dead or dying body of the rats and jump to nearby humans. A similar thing was happening to the prairie dogs, with the added bonus that the sick ones were too weak to run away from the humans. Those humans who had not been warned would approach the prairie dogs and get within flea jumping range.
I think I'll just avoid all rodents for a while, thanks.
(And as I tag this post, I discover that I've already told this story...)