Colorado Hit by Deadly Medieval Disease

By Cassidy Morrison Senior Health Reporter for Dailymail.Com

18:00 04 Jul 2024, updated 18:08 04 Jul 2024

Colorado health officials have confirmed that a resident has contracted the bacterial infection that causes the plague, the deadly medieval disease that can cause patients to cough up blood.

It is not known how the individual became infected, but the bacteria can be transmitted through contact with wild rodents and through the bites of infected fleas.

Symptoms of the plague are similar to those of the flu, including sudden fever, chills, severe headache and muscle pain, nausea and vomiting.

It can also cause swollen lymph nodes, called buboes, which can become inflamed and tender, and tissues such as the hands and feet can turn black – hence the name ‘Black Death’.

If the disease is not treated, it can spread to the lungs and other organs, as well as the blood, which can be fatal.

Plague is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, which is transmitted by fleas and is spread between animals. The image above is a 3D illustration of the bacterium

The plague is usually spread through infected wild rodents and infected fleas, which can nest on the skin of pets

A person with the plague, which can be spread from person to person through coughing or sneezing, can be treated with antibiotics.

Click here to resize this module

Infections usually begin with wild rodents and infected fleas, which can nest on the skin of pets.

People become infected when they come into contact with infected animals or through respiratory droplets from a sick person.

While the source of the infection in Colorado is unknown, scientists have previously found samples of the bacteria living in squirrels in the state.

This is not the first case of the plague to appear in the US since the outbreak in the 15th century wiped out large parts of Europe’s population.

About seven cases of plague are confirmed each year in the US.

Recently, in February, an Oregon resident contracted the fatal disease from her cat. However, she was treated in the early stages of the disease and no further cases have been found in the region.

And in 2021, a 10-year-old girl in Colorado died from the disease, the first death there since 2015. The state reported 22 cases of the plague between 2005 and 2020.

According to Colorado Public Radio, four people died from the plague nationwide in 2015, including two from Colorado: an adult in Pueblo County and a teenager in Larimer County.

The plague is more common in the summer months, because the bacteria can multiply rapidly in high temperatures and higher humidity.

People also spend more time outdoors in the summer, increasing the chance that infected animals will transmit the bacteria to humans.

Pueblo County health officials say it is vital to eliminate potential rodent habitats around residential areas and recreation areas by clearing brush, rock piles, trash and wood piles.

An illustration from 1656: A plague doctor in protective clothing. The beak mask contained spices believed to purify the air, the magic wand was used to prevent patients from being touched

This reduces the places where rodents can hide and breed, thus minimizing the risk of exposure to fleas that transmit the plague bacteria.

They also advise people to avoid direct contact with dead animals. If necessary, they should use an insect repellent containing DEET to protect themselves from flea bites.

Using a long-handled shovel, place the animal in a sealable garbage bag and dispose of it in an outside trash bin as soon as possible.

To further prevent flea bites, it is recommended to apply a DEET-based insect repellent to bare skin and clothing, especially pants, socks, shoes, arms and legs.

Pets should not sleep in beds to minimize potential exposure to fleas. Regular flea treatment for pets is essential, while flea collars are not effective.

It is also important to keep pets away from areas where rodents are common, such as prairie dog colonies. Store their food in secure, rodent-proof containers to prevent contamination and subsequent exposure to pest bacteria.

These measures are essential to reduce the risk of bullying transmission and ensure community safety.

What is the plague?

Bubonic plague is the most common form of plague and is spread by the bite of an infected flea.

The infection spreads to the lymph nodes, which control the immune system. These glands swell and become painful. Open wounds may also develop.

The plague is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis. People and pets can contract the disease if proper precautions are not taken.

Human-to-human transmission of bubonic plague is rare and is usually transmitted through animals.

People can become infected with plague through bites from infected fleas, through the cough of an infected animal, or through direct contact (e.g. through a bite) with the blood or tissue of infected animals.

Symptoms of plague may include sudden onset of high fever, chills, headache, nausea, and extreme pain and swelling of the lymph nodes. These symptoms may occur within two to seven days of exposure.

The plague can be effectively treated with antibiotics if detected early.

Leave a Comment