NPR

Medieval Diseases Are Mounting A Comeback, Specialists Say. What Are The Causes?

Typhus, shigellosis, plague — medieval diseases are making a resurgence in the U.S. Infectious disease specialist Dr. Jeffrey Duchin explains what's happening.
A notice alerting the public and homeless who stay nearby that the area around the Los Angeles City Hall will undergo a major cleaning to combat a rat infestation inside the building is posted nearby in Los Angeles on March 1, 2019. (Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images)

California Gov. Gavin Newsom expressed concern about the rise of typhus in his State of the State address this year, calling it a “medieval disease … in 2019.”

Infectious disease specialists say the problem is real. And it’s not just typhus. It’s also plague — yes, plague — shigellosis and bartonella quintana.

One reason is homelessness,

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from NPR

NPR2 min read
Marium, The Dugong That Charmed Thailand, Dies After Ingesting Plastic
Marium became an internet hit as people marveled over videos of her being cared for by scientists in Thailand. An autopsy revealed plastic pieces in her intestines.
NPR2 min readPolitics
Suicide Bomber Kills 63, Injures 182 At Wedding Reception In Kabul
More than 1,000 people had gathered at a hall in a Shiite neighborhood to celebrate a wedding. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack Sunday.
NPR10 min read
My Grandfather, A Killer
Denise Guerra, a second-generation Filipino American, never met her grandfather. When she finally learned a long-held family secret, it shattered her view of the quintessential immigrant narrative.