Colorado Confirms Human Plague Case, Public Advised To Take Precautions

The Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment (PDPHE) has confirmed a human case of Bubonic plague in Pueblo County, Colorado. Health officials are working with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to investigate the situation.

Although specifics about the individual affected are not yet available, authorities are urging the public to take necessary precautions to avoid exposure.

Rats are believed to have brought the plague-causing bacterium Yersinia pestis to North America from South Asia around 1900. Dr. Timothy Brewer from UCLA noted that the disease has become endemic in ground squirrels and rodents in the Southwestern U.S.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the plague can strike individuals of any age, with roughly half of the cases involving people aged 12 to 45.

Annually, the World Health Organization reports between 1,000 and 2,000 cases of plague globally, with the U.S. seeing about seven cases per year. The fatality rate for untreated plague ranges from 30% to 60%, but with antibiotics, it falls to below 5%.

Plague symptoms include severe headaches, fever, chills, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, and swollen lymph nodes. Transmission typically occurs through bites from infected fleas, direct contact with infected animals, or droplets from an infected person. Infection control expert Erica Susky emphasized that reducing contact with rodents and fleas is key to preventing infection.

“Pets can become infected from fleas or rodents and may transmit the disease to their owners,” Susky told Fox News Digital. Handling or skinning infected animals can also spread the bacterium through body fluids.

Preventative measures include avoiding contact with rodents and fleas, rodent-proofing homes by sealing entry points, and eliminating hiding spots. Susky recommends keeping pets indoors or on a leash when outside. Promptly treating pets with flea infestations and seeking veterinary care for any ill pets are also crucial steps.

These steps are essential to protect against this potentially deadly infection, particularly in areas where the bacterium is endemic. Health officials stress the importance of awareness and prompt treatment to prevent severe outcomes.