Its sad serendipity that I found out that an Arizona-based biologist working for the National Park Service, named Eric York, likely died of plague a few months ago. Fatalities due to modern-day plague (caused by the bacteria Y. pestis) are extremely rare, especially in America. I’m not even sure when the last death from plague in America was, although according to the CDC there are on average of 2800 plague cases worldwide and 13 of those are in the USA. Only 1 in 7 of plague cases in the USA are fatal.
It is suspected that York acquired the plague when performing a necropsy on a mountain lion that died of the infection. He began experiencing flu-like symptoms by October 30, just three days after the necropsy, and was found dead in his home November 2. This illustrates how quickly a Y. pestis infection can overwhelm the human body without a quick diagnosis and antibiotics to ward it off. With antibiotics (usually streptomycin or gentomycin) there is a 85% chance of survival, as opposed to 50-10% if left untreated. The picture below shows the Y. pesis bacteria in the blood.
As a side note, those two antibiotics I listed above are known to cause hearing loss via hair cell death.