|Description:||Captured during the necropsy of a rock squirrel, Spermophilus variegatus, exposure of the animal’s abdominal viscera revealed the presence of a massive hemorrhagic reaction, which was due to a Yersinia pestis infection, the bacteria responsible for causing plague.|
Plague is transmitted from animal to animal and from animal to human, by the bites of infective fleas. Less frequently, the organism enters through a break in the skin by direct contact with tissue or body fluids of a plague-infected animal, for instance, in the process of skinning a rabbit or other animal. Plague is also transmitted by inhaling infected droplets expelled by coughing, by a person or animal, especially domestic cats, with pneumonic plague. Transmission of plague from person to person is uncommon and has not been observed in the United States since 1924 but does occur as an important factor in plague epidemics in some developing countries.