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Plague

Rat traps are a weapon behind used to fight the plague in Madagascar, since the rodents carry the disease. But getting rid of all the rats would be difficult — and without rats, plague-infected fleas could then turn to humans for a blood meal. RIJASOLO/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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RIJASOLO/AFP/Getty Images

Workers spray to kill fleas in a public school in Antananarivo, Madagascar's capital. A bite from an infected flea can spread the plague, which has stricken 157 people in the island nation since August. Anadolu Agency/Getty Images hide caption

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Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Strike 2: Our second attempt at illustrating the plague story — with what we said was a 15th-century image by Jacopo Oddi from the La Franceschina codex depicting Franciscan monks treating victims of the plague in Italy — is about leprosy. A. Dagli Orti/Getty Images hide caption

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A. Dagli Orti/Getty Images

Rod-shaped specimens of Yersinia pestis, the bacterial cause of plague, find a happy home here in the foregut of a flea. Fleas can transmit the infection to animals and people, who can get pneumonic plague and transmit the infection through a cough or kiss. Science Source hide caption

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Science Source

Small Plague Outbreak In People Tracked To Pit Bull

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Who, me? The Asian relative of this domestic gerbil is a well-known host to the bacteria that cause plague. Valentina Storti/Flickr hide caption

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Valentina Storti/Flickr

Gerbils Likely Pushed Plague To Europe in Middle Ages

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Venetians celebrate during the Festa del Redentore in Venice. The festival began in 1576 when the Republic's Senate voted to build a church on the Giudecca Island to Christ the Redeemer to thank God for the city's deliverance from the Plague. Marco Di Lauro/Getty Images hide caption

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Marco Di Lauro/Getty Images