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Black Death, Prairie Dogs, Fleas and a Human Case in AZ
September 17, 2007

Back in May I posted several snippets on the recurrence of the plague in squirrels in the Denver park system. Now I just read a story at the USA Today website about a woman in northern Arizona contracting the plague from a flea bite. Seems that fleas can carry the disease from rodents to humans, and of course a bit from an infected animal would do the trick as well. Out in Arizona they are cautioning the populace about flea collars for house pets, staying away from rodent dens and wearing gloves when skinning your squirrels and prairie dogs!

Of course, as I mentioned in those postings from may, medical advancement has provided us with antibiotics to fight Black Death in humans, so the woman who caught it in Arizona should be on antibiotics now and is hopefully doing well. Never the less, the USA Today article notes that eight of the 48 human cases of plague reported in Arizona since 1977 have resulted in death. You can never be too careful, I guess.

On the other hand, you can handle medieval coins all day long and not worry a bit, so I suggest leaving the prairie dogs alone and taking up numismatic pursuits. Many coin dealers offer good selections of Medieval coinage, check out the new items in Tom Cederlind's buy or bid sale, look at the coins in Classical Numismatic Group's website, or stop by Allen Berman's website. Explore the world of Medieval coins through, check out European Medieval issues through Alex Basok's well designed Rusty Pennies site, investigate the stellar website of Marc Breitsprecher for ancient coins or contact Liz Cottam for more on Celtic coins at the Chris Rudd website. I'm sure you'll have some fun and I guarantee that you'll not pick up a single plague infested flea.

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About the Author
Tom Michael has been Krause Publications primary market analyst on more than 80 world and United States coin catalogs produced over the last 20 years. He came to KP in 1987 with a bachelor of arts degree in history, a master of arts degree in economics and a history of coin collecting stretching back to the 1960s. He began collecting world coins as a child by asking friends and relatives to bring coins back from overseas trips, visiting flea markets and having his mother watch for foreign coins in her register at the local grocery store. Today he works with a dedicated base of over 200 contributors to provide accurate market values for the five-volume Standard Catalog of World Coins series, as well as many specialty catalogs, including Coins & Currency of the Middle East and the fifth edition of Unusual World Coins.

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