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

A case of plague has been confirmed in a person in Pueblo County, Colorado, officials announced Tuesday.

The case was initially flagged on Friday from preliminary test results, and the source of the infection is still under investigation, according to a news release from the Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment. report from ABC7.

Plague is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, transmitted by fleas. Though it is most infamous for causing “The Black Death,” an outbreak that killed millions of Europeans during the Middle Ages, the bacteria naturally circulates among wild rodents and rarely infects humans today, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Humans can contract plague through bites from infected fleas, contact with infected animals, or inhaling droplets from the cough of an infected person or animal. Anyone who develops symptoms of plague should seek medical attention immediately. Typical symptoms include sudden fever and chills, severe headache, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, and commonly, swollen and painful lymph nodes.

“Plague can be treated successfully with antibiotics, but an infected person must be treated promptly to avoid serious complications or death,” said 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. “We advise all individuals to protect themselves and their pets from plague,” the department added, According to CNN.

To reduce the risk of infection, the department recommends eliminating places where wild rodents can live around homes, such as brush, rock piles, trash, and piles of lumber. Precautions around pets are also crucial, including 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 owners.

From 1970 to 2022, there were 67 reported cases of plague in Colorado, according to the CDC. Globally, 3,248 human plague cases were reported from 2010 to 2015, primarily in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, and Peru, according to the World Health Organization. told by Newsweek.

“A plague vaccine is no longer available in the United States,” the CDC notes. “New plague vaccines are in development but are not expected to be commercially available in the immediate future.”

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