Plague found in 6 counties in Colorado after 10-year-old dies
LAPLATA COUNTY, Colorado (KDVR) – The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment says there have been laboratory-confirmed reports of plague in animals and fleas in six counties.
One of the six counties where the plague is confirmed is LaPlata County, where a 10-year-old resident has died from causes associated with the plague. Laboratory tests have since confirmed the presence of plague in a sample of fleas collected from the county, according to the CDPHE.
CDPHE said plague is caused by bacteria that can be transmitted to humans through the bites of infected fleas or through direct contact with infected animals.
If detected early in infection, plague can be treated in humans as well as in pets. Symptoms include the sudden onset of a high fever and / or swelling of the lymph nodes, according to the CDPHE.
“In Colorado, we expect fleas to test positive for plague during the summer months. Awareness and precautions can help prevent disease in humans. Although it is rare for people to contract the plague, we want to make sure everyone is aware of the symptoms. The disease is treatable if caught early. Tell a healthcare professional if you think you have symptoms of plague or if you think you have been exposed, ”said Jennifer House, deputy state epidemiologist and public health veterinarian for CDPHE.
Here are some useful tips from CDPHE:
- Avoid fleas. Protect pets with a vet-approved flea treatment and keep them on a leash and out of wild rodent habitats.
- Stay away from areas where wild rodents live. If you enter areas inhabited by wild rodents, wear bug spray and tuck the cuffs of your pants into your socks to prevent flea bites.
- Avoid contact with wild rodents, including squirrels. Do not feed or handle them.
- Do not touch sick or dead animals.
- Prevent rodent infestations around your home by removing plants and materials from exterior walls, reducing access to food, and setting up traps.
- Consult with a professional pest control company to treat the area around your home for fleas.
- Contact a veterinarian if your pet becomes ill with a high fever and / or an abscess (i.e. an open sore) or swollen lymph nodes. Animals infected with plague can transmit the disease to humans.
- Children should be aware of these precautions and know how to tell an adult if they have been in contact with a wild animal or if they have been bitten by fleas.
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