|Description:||This historic image depicted Leo Kartman, ScD, public health scientist, at work in the former San Francisco, California, Public Health Service, Communicable Disease Center, Plague Laboratory.|
The Communicable Disease Center (CDC) was a branch of the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS), which was a branch of the former Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW). Retaining its acronym, in 1970 the CDC was renamed to the Center for Disease Control, and in 1979, HEW was renamed the Department of Health and Human Services.
Wild rodents in certain areas around the world are infected with plague. Outbreaks in people still occur in rural communities or in cities. They are usually associated with infected rats and rat fleas that live in the home. In the United States, the last urban plague epidemic occurred in Los Angeles in 1924-25. Since then, human plague in the United States has occurred as mostly scattered cases in rural areas (an average of 10 to 15 persons each year). Globally, the World Health Organization reports 1,000 to 3,000 cases of plague every year. In North America, plague is found in certain animals and their fleas from the Pacific Coast to the Great Plains, and from southwestern Canada to Mexico. Most human cases in the United States occur in two regions: 1) northern New Mexico, northern Arizona, and southern Colorado; and 2) California, southern Oregon, and far western Nevada. Plague also exists in Africa, Asia, and South America.