The Plague Returns! New Mexico Confirms Two New Cases

Posted June 28, 2017

New Mexico health officials have documented two more human cases of plague in Santa Fe County.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that humans case of plague only really affect the west of the United States in two areas: northern New Mexico, northern Arizona and southern Colorado; or California, southern or and far west Nevada. In fact, typically, half of all USA plague cases occur in New Mexico, NMDOH officials said. The first case of plague in Santa Fe County this year, found in a 63-year-old man, was reported earlier in June.

Without treatment, plague causes death in about 60 to 90 percent of cases, according to a recent paper from the CDC. There have been no deaths.

Health officials carried out health investigations around the homes of the patients to make sure there are no infections or risks. However, it can be treated with antibiotics.

The illness is usually spread to humans through the bites of infected fleas, but can also be transferred through contact with rodents or dead animals.

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New Mexico averages a few cases a year of human plague, which sometimes can be fatal.

NMDOH recommends protecting pets by using safe flea control, taking them to a veterinarian promptly, and keeping their food and water away from areas with mice.

Symptoms include sudden fevers, chills, headaches and fatigue.

Sick pets, especially those that are lethargic and lacking appetite, should be seen by a veterinarian immediately, the Department of Health said.

In 2015, there was an increase in USA cases, with 16 reported and four deaths recorded. In 2015, there was an unusually high number of plague cases in the United States - 16 in total, according to the CDC. There are also an average of seven cases of the bubonic plague recorded in the USA each year. In most cases there is a painful swelling of the lymph node in the groin, armpit or neck areas.