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Deadly plague hits Western U.S. state, four cases identified

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Published on : Jul 21, 2014

The deadly plague that was reported in Colorado last week, has affected three more people in the state, taking the number to a total of four cases. The pneumonic plague has been stated to be the deadliest detected in the state in a decade. While the man originally infected with the plague has been hospitalized, two of the new cases have also confirmed the infection and the third new case is a milder form of the plague. All recent patients have been treated with antibiotics and are said to be no longer contagious. 

The original infection has been linked to the man’s dog that died of the illness and all three new cases have also been linked to the same dog. Health officials suspect that the dog could possibly have been exposed to plague-infected fleas from a rabbit or a prairie dog, but have stated the outbreak is over.

The plague is transmitted by fleas. A bacterium called Yersinia pestis infects animals such as prairie dogs, chipmunks, mice and ground squirrels. The fleas pick up the bacterium and transfer them to other mammals. Pneumonic plague is the deadliest form of the disease and is transmitted through sneezing and coughing. 

On an average, plague infects seven people in the U.S. in a year and is most commonly found in the western states such as New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona.

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