Human Plague Case Confirmed by Colorado Health Department

Plague is extremely rare, with an average of seven cases reported annually in the United States.
The Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment reports that Colorado public health experts have identified a human case of plague in Pueblo County.

Plague is extremely rare, with only seven human plague cases confirmed each year in the United States, according to the CDC. While the disease killed millions of people in Europe during the Middle Ages, it is now a rare source of illness in rural southwestern states, including New Mexico, Arizona, and Colorado, according to the agency.

Certain parts of Africa and Asia have also recorded occurrences in recent years. Plague, a potentially fatal disease, is caused by the bacteria Yersinia pestis. According to the Pueblo Department of Public Health, it is typically transmitted to people via the bite of an infected rodent flea or through contact with an infected animal.

The CDC reports that symptoms may include a rapid fever, chills, severe headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, nausea, and vomiting. Antibiotics can treat the plague, but they must be provided quickly to avoid major sickness or death.

Health officials recommended anyone experiencing plague symptoms to seek medical attention immediately.

To avoid infection, health experts recommend that individuals avoid contact with dead animals, treat their pets for fleas on a regular basis, and eliminate areas in and around the home where rats can reproduce.