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Possible Plague Case Leads to Death in La Plata County

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The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the San Juan Basin Public Health Department are investigating a potential case of plague. It's been associated with the recent death of a La Plata County resident. KSUT’s Sarah Flower reports.

If confirmed, this would be the first plague death since 2015, according to CDPHE. Although the plague has been found across Colorado, the agency says southwest Colorado sees more cases of hosts of plague than in other parts of the state.

Transcript

Sarah Flower 00:00
If confirmed, this would be the first plague death in Colorado since 2015. Although the plague has been found all across Colorado, CDPHE says southwest Colorado does see more cases of reservoir hosts than in any other part of the state. Dr. Jennifer House is the Deputy State Epidemiologist and Public Health Veterinarian for CDPHE. She says the most common form of plague that they see in humans is the bubonic plague, septicemic, and pneumonic plague. Dr. House encourages Coloradans to be aware that the plague does exist.

Dr. Jennifer House 00:41
We want everyone to be aware that plague is a real disease, and it is a disease that is present and active in Colorado. And, we want individuals to know that information and to take the necessary precautions. It's present in wildlife species, wild rodents, and ground squirrels in particular so we recommend individuals avoid handling or any contact with these types of animals. Do not handle any wildlife, either sick or healthy. Do not feed wildlife.

Sarah Flower 01:12
Dr. House says that the plague can be treated by antibiotics if given within 24 hours of infection. But without treatment, the disease can cause serious illness or death. Dr. House is hopeful that the specimens from this recent death should be confirmed by this weekend.

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