Colorado health officials confirm case of human plague in state

The plague is very rare, with an average of seven cases per year in the US

Colorado health officials have confirmed a case of the plague in a Pueblo County resident, according to the Pueblo County Department of Public Health and Environment.

According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), plague is a very rare disease. An average of seven human cases of plague are reported in the US each year.

While the disease killed millions of people in Europe during the Middle Ages, it is now a rare cause of illness in rural areas of the southwestern U.S., particularly New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado, the agency said.

Cases have also been reported in certain regions of Africa and Asia in recent years.

A potentially life-threatening disease, plague is caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis. It is usually spread to humans through the bite of an infected rodent flea or by touching an infected animal, according to the Pueblo Department of Public Health.

Symptoms may include sudden fever, chills, severe headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, nausea and vomiting, the CDC said.

The plague can be cured with antibiotics, but they must be administered quickly to prevent serious illness or death.

Health officials are urging anyone who develops symptoms of the plague to seek immediate medical attention.

To prevent infection, health officials recommend that people take precautions, such as avoiding contact with dead animals, treating pets regularly for fleas, and eliminating areas in and around the home where rodents can breed.

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