By NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

For the first time since 2017, New Mexico health officials have reported a human plague case. The confirmed case is reported in a 72-year-old man from Torrance County.


The New Mexico Department of Health staff have gone door-to-door in the affected area to inform neighbors about plague and provided them with education to reduce their risks.

“No matter where you call home in New Mexico, you can reduce the risk of plague by avoiding contact with rodents or their fleas, or outdoor pets by providing appropriate flea prevention for pets year-round,” said Secretary of Health Kathy Kunkel.

Plague is a disease caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis which is generally transmitted to humans from the bites of infected fleas that live among rodents and rabbits. Plague can also be transmitted by direct contact with infected animals. Pet dogs and cats can become infected with plague when they eat an infected rodent or when they get bit by an infected flea.

Symptoms of plague in humans include sudden onset of a fever, chills, headache, and weakness usually within one to seven days of becoming infected. There may be a painful swelling of the lymph node in the neck, armpit or groin areas referred to as bubonic plague. The infection can also spread to the blood, causing septicemic plague, or to the lungs, causing pneumonic plague.

With prompt diagnosis and appropriate antibiotic treatment, the fatality rate in people and pets can be greatly reduced.

There has been one animal plague case in a dog in Quay County in 2019. Four human plague cases were reported in New Mexico in 2017.

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