Plague Case Confirmed in Pueblo County, Colorado
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Plague Case Confirmed in Pueblo County, Colorado

A confirmed case of plague has been reported in Pueblo County, Colorado, officials announced on Tuesday. The preliminary test results flagged the case last Friday, and the source of the infection is still under investigation, according to a news release from the Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment.

Plague, caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, is primarily transmitted by fleas. Known historically for “The Black Death” which decimated Europe during the Middle Ages, the plague bacteria continue to circulate among wild rodents, though human infections are now rare, per the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). report from NBC.

Humans can contract the plague through bites from infected fleas, contact with infected animals, or inhaling droplets from the cough of an infected person or animal.

The CDC advises that anyone experiencing plague symptoms seek immediate medical attention. Symptoms typically include sudden fever and chills, severe headache, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, and swollen, painful lymph nodes.

“Plague can be treated successfully with antibiotics, but prompt treatment is essential to avoid serious complications or death,” stated Alicia Solis, program manager of the Office of Communicable Disease and Emergency Preparedness at the Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment, in the news release.

To prevent infection, individuals are advised to protect themselves and their pets from the plague. This includes eliminating areas where wild rodents might live, such as brush, rock piles, trash, and lumber around homes, garages, sheds, and recreational areas.

Pet owners can reduce transmission risks by treating dogs and cats for fleas, storing pet food in rodent-proof containers, and preventing pets from roaming in rodent-infested areas or sleeping in bed with humans. as reported by CNN.

Between 1970 and 2022, Colorado reported 67 cases of plague. Globally, 3,248 human plague cases were reported from 2010 to 2015, predominantly in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, and Peru, according to the World Health Organization.

Currently, there is no commercially available plague vaccine in the United States. Although new vaccines are in development, they are not expected to be available soon, according to the CDC.

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