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The Colorado Department of Public Health has identified pneumonic plague as infecting a Colorado citizen this past week. Research into his personal life exposed that his dog had recently died suddenly. The canine’s remains were recovered and tested at Colorado State University, where tests confirmed the dog also had the plague.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is investigating to discover the cause of exposure and to pinpoint any other individuals who might have been exposed through close contact with the sickened man. Any persons who have been exposed will be recommended to take antibiotic treatment as soon as possible.
It is believed that the patient and his dog could have become in eastern Adams County in Colorado. Plague is spread from fleas that have been on rodents, most usually prairie dogs. People that happen to be walking out the open and on hiking trails need to avoid contact with rodents if at all possible.
Pneumonic plague is considered the most severe form of the plague. It is when bacteria infects the lungs and causes pneumonia. It is mainly contracted when bacteria is breathed in or can develop when bubonic or septicemic plague moves to the lungs.
Pneumonic plague is extremely contagious and can be transmitted easily from one person to another. It is highly infectious under the right conditions such as being in an overcrowded place. If left untreated, pneumonic plague is most often fatal.
Dr. Jennifer House, who is a public health veterinarian at the Colorado Department of Public Health, encourages individuals to read the below precautions in order to help prevent plague exposure and follow them.
Do not handle dead rodents if possible. Keep all pets away from wildlife, mainly dead rodents. Do not allow dogs or cats to hunt for rodents. Treat pets for fleas. Do not feed prairie dogs or any rodents. Be aware of the rodent population where one lives and report if there are sudden die-offs or numerous dead animals to a nearby health department.
Dr. House also stated for people to get in contact with their private physicians if they come down with any symptoms of plague, which include a fast onset of a high fever, nausea, vomiting, muscle aches and pains or a general all over feeling of being ill after having a flea bite or coming in contact with a dead rodents.
Individuals who become infected with the bubonic plague will have a huge, swollen, painful lymph node appear near the area of the flea bite, frequently around the armpit or groin. If this is left untreated, the disease will most likely enter into the body’s bloodstream or lungs and cause serious, life-threatening complications. People who develop pneumonic plague develop fever, shortness of breath, cough, chest pain, headache and weakness. All of which may cause respiratory failure.
Since the mid 1950’s, the state of Colorado has identified 60 cases of human plague. About 10 of them have been fatal. Pneumonic plague has been found to have infected a Colorado citizen this past week. Research into his personal life exposed that his dog had recently died suddenly. The canine’s remains were recovered and tested at Colorado State University, where tests confirmed the dog also had the plague.
By Kimberly Ruble