Human plague detected in Pueblo County

PUEBLO, Colo. (KKTV) – Public health officials are investigating a case of human plague in Pueblo County.

The Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment are investigating a human case of the plague based on preliminary test results.

Health officials said the plague bacteria can be transmitted by fleas and wild rodents. Plague occurs naturally and can affect people and their pets. Common ways to contract the plague are through infected flea bites, touching infected animals (prairie dogs, squirrels, rats and rabbits) and inhaling droplets from the cough of an infected person or animal.

Common symptoms of the plague include sudden fever and chills, severe headache, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting and feeling ill. Health officials said the plague can be successfully treated with antibiotics, but an infected person must be treated quickly to prevent serious complications or death.

Common forms of the plague include bubonic, septicaemia and pneumonic plague. However, as of 4 p.m. Wednesday, health officials could not specify which form was present in Pueblo County.

Health officials have listed a number of ways people can protect themselves and their pets from the plague:

  • Remove areas where rodents can hide and breed around your home, garage, shed or recreation area. Remove brush, rock piles, rubble and wood piles.
  • Avoid contact with dead animals. If you must handle sick or dead animals, follow these guidelines. First, use an insect repellent to protect yourself from fleas. Then, use a long-handled shovel to place it in a garbage bag. Finally, place the bag in an outside garbage can.
  • Use insect repellent with 20%-30% DEET to prevent flea bites. Treat pants, socks, shoe tops, arms and legs.
  • Do not allow pets to sleep in your bed.
  • Treat dogs and cats regularly for fleas. Flea collars are not proven effective.
  • Do not allow pets to hunt or roam in areas where rodents are present, such as prairie dog colonies.
  • Store pet food in rodent-proof containers.

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