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Deadly plague than can be spread by coughing, sneezing infects Colorado man

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
7/11/2014 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Pneumonic plague case is the first seen in 10 years

It's the first case of pneumonic plague seen in Colorado since 2004. A man there has been diagnosed with among the rarest and most fatal forms of the plague, an airborne version that can be spread through coughing and sneezing.

Untreated plague is always fatal. Antibiotics have to be given within 24 hours of the first symptoms to reduce the chance of death.

Untreated plague is always fatal. Antibiotics have to be given within 24 hours of the first symptoms to reduce the chance of death.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
7/11/2014 (2 years ago)

Published in Health

Keywords: Pneumonic plague, Colorado, prarie dogs, treatment


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Jennifer House, a spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment says the unidentified man may have been exposed in Adams County near Denver. House says that the man has since been hospitalized and treated. Further details about the case have not been forthcoming. 

"He's on treatment long enough to not be transmissible," House said in a telephone interview. The patient may have contracted the illness from his dog. His pet died suddenly and was later found to be carrying the disease.

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"We don't think it's out in our air," House said. "We think it's in our dead animal populations and dead rodent populations."

Plague is extremely rare in the United States, infecting only about seven people annually in the U.S. In the early onset of the disease, Yersinia pestis infects the body. What differentiates between the pneumonic and bubonic varieties is that the bacteria takes hold in the lungs in the first case, rather than underneath the skin through insect bites. Both are treated with antibiotics.
Colorado is now working "to investigate the source of exposure and to identify those who may have been exposed through close contact with the individual . Any individuals exposed will be recommended for antibiotic treatment."

Colorado has had 60 cases of all types of plague since 1957, and nine people have died, the state said.

"The reaction is leaning toward people who are tired of the protection of prairie dogs on some level," Jim Siedlecki, director of public information of Adams County says.

"Most people look at them as cute little dogs on the side of the road, but in rural Adams County they are looked at as a rodent who damages crops and is potentially plague-ridden."

There is a risk that it could spread to the population at large. Adams County, home to 470,000 residents, with 425,000 living in the Denver metro area, is one of Colorado's fastest-growing counties and among the 20 fastest-growing counties in the nation.

Untreated plague is always fatal. Antibiotics have to be given within 24 hours of the first symptoms to reduce the chance of death. Symptoms include fever, headache and chest pain, along with a pneumonia that develops rapidly causing shortness of breath, chest pain and bloody mucus.

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