Report Of Human Case Of Bubonic Plague Surfaces In Colorado

( – The bubonic plague is a rare, yet serious bacterial infection, Yersinia pestis, often spread by fleas that feast on infected rodents. It can also be spread through contact with infected animals and through the air. While it’s often attributed to the tens of millions of deaths in Europe in the 1300s, it’s still around but not as prominent. A recent case of a human possibly infected with the disease surfaced in Colorado.

Earlier this month, the Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment received notice of a possible case of the bubonic plague in Pueblo County. After testing, they confirmed the presence of the bacteria, though they did not release any information about the person who contracted the illness. Before that, the county recorded several incidences of the plague in animals, but only one human case from 2005 to 2021. CDC data shows there are an average of seven human cases in the United States annually.

The plague typically presents symptoms that mimic the flu, such as fever, chills, severe headaches, muscle aches, vomiting, nausea, and exhaustion. The illness is treatable with antibiotics, but they must be administered quickly, otherwise, the infection can increase in severity and lead to complications, including death.

The Colorado State Department of Health gave some tips on how people can avoid contracting the illness, including treating cats and dogs regularly for fleas, avoiding contact with dead animals, eliminating places where rodents can nest and breed around your home, and using insect repellent to keep fleas at bay. Health officials also caution to avoid letting your pets sleep with you and keep them from roaming or hunting in rodent colonies, including prairie dogs.

There is no cause for concern to the public regarding this case. According to the World Health Organization, human-to-human transmission of the bacteria is rare.

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