Boy, this is some freaky stuff…

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Biologist found dead; plague is likely cause
Corinne Purtill
The Arizona Republic
Nov. 11, 2007 12:00 AM

Pneumonic plague likely claimed the life of a wildlife biologist found dead at Grand Canyon National Park, officials said Friday.

Investigators believe that Eric York, 37, contracted the disease from a mountain lion carcass he worked with in a remote area of the park, said Matt Walburger, a consultant for the U.S. Public Health Service.

It is the first case of human plague infection recorded at the Grand Canyon, park officials said.

York was found dead Nov. 2 in his home at the canyon’s South Rim. His two roommates and others who had contact with York prior to his death were placed on antibiotics as a precaution immediately after his body was found, said Robin Martin, a park spokeswoman. No one has shown any symptoms.

Pneumonic plague is one of the most deadly yet least common forms of the bacterial disease. It is most commonly transmitted to humans by flea bites and direct contact with infected animals. The last U.S. case of human-to-human transmission was in 1924.