Plague cases from fleas confirmed in Colorado

Plague cases from fleas confirmed in Colorado

Cases of plague have been confirmed in animals and fleas in six counties in Colorado — including where a 10-year-old girl died earlier this month after suffering plague-like symptoms, according to a report.

Lab tests confirmed the disease in fleas in La Plata County, where the tragic girl lived, according to CBS 4 Denver.

Plague was also detected in San Miguel, El Paso, Boulder, Huerfano and Adams counties, a spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment told the outlet.

Humans typically get plague from fleas carrying the plague bacterium or by handling infected animals, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“In Colorado, we expect to have fleas test positive for plague during the summer months. Awareness and precautions can help prevent the disease in people. While it’s rare for people to contract plague, we want to make sure everyone knows the symptoms. The disease is treatable if caught early.  Let a medical provider know if you think you have symptoms of plague or if you think you’ve been exposed,” said Jennifer House, Deputy State Epidemiologist and Public Health Veterinarian for Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment in a statement.

Symptoms include sudden fever, headache, chills, weakness as well as painful lymph nodes, according to Colorado health officials.

Morphological characteristic of a flea depicted in the digitally-colorized scanning electron microscopic (SEM) image, 2017. Image courtesy Centers for Disease Control (CDC) / Ken Gage.
Authorities have confirmed fleas in La Plata County, Colorado are spreading the plague.
Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

There is no vaccine for the disease, however it can be treated with antibiotics if detected early. 

The CDPHE also warned residents to take certain precautions in areas where plague is present, including avoiding directly handling wildlife and keeping pets away from wildlife, especially dead rodents and rabbits.

Two people became infected with plague last year but survived, according to the Denver Post.

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