Spend any length of time in New York City and a rat will show its whiskery face or worm-like tail. It could be on the subway tracks or nibbling through the garbage on the side of the street. It could also be carrying the bubonic plague.

Scientists studying rats in New York found the flea that carries the plague – the Oriental rat flea – hosting on some of the city’s rat population, according to the study published Monday in theJournal of Medical Entomology.

Bubonic plague is infamous as one of the most devastating pandemics in world history, known as the Black Death. During the 14th Century, the plague killed between 25 million and 50 million people in Europe.

Before panic ensues, it must be noted that researchers found no trace of the plague or typhus – another disease carried by the Oriental rat flea – in any of the fleas they sampled. Check out the full report here.

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