A Man From New Mexico Died Of Plague


El Paso, Texas (KTSM) — A man from Lincoln County, New Mexico, died of plague after being hospitalized with the condition, the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) said on Friday, March 8.

The NMDOH reports that this is the first human case of plague in New Mexico since 2021, and the first fatality since 2020.

“The state’s last human plague case occurred in Torrance County in 2021. The NMDOH reported four occurrences of human plague in 2020: one in Santa Fe County, two in Torrance County, and one fatal case in Rio Arriba County.

The location of the man’s Lincoln County residence was not specified in the news announcement.

According to the NMDOH, plague is a bacterial disease carried by rodents that spreads to people through infected flea bites. It can also be transmitted through direct contact with infected animals, which include rodents, wildlife, and pets.

“Dogs and cats that are allowed to roam and hunt can bring infected fleas from dead rodents back into the home, putting household members at risk,” the National Institutes of Health noted.

The NMDOH said its team is reaching out to local neighbors, and an environmental assessment will be done in the community to look for ongoing dangers.

Plague symptoms in humans include sudden fever, chills, headache, and weakness. Most occurrences involve a painful enlargement of lymph nodes in the groin, armpit, or neck. In cats and dogs, plague symptoms include fever, lethargy, and appetite loss. There may be swelling in the lymph node beneath the jaw.

To prevent plague, the NMDOH recommends the following:

  • Avoid rodents and rabbits that are sick or dead, as well as their nests and burrows.
  • Keep pets from roaming and hunting.
  • Consult your veterinarian about using a suitable flea control treatment on your pets, as not all solutions are safe for cats, dogs, or children.
  • Have your sick pets inspected by a veterinarian right away.
  • Consult your doctor about any inexplicable sickness characterized by a sudden and severe fever.
  • Clean up any areas near your property where rodents could live, such as woodpiles, brush piles, rubbish, and abandoned automobiles.
  • Place hay, wood, and compost piles as far as feasible from your residence.
  • Do not leave your pet’s food and water where rodents and wildlife can access to them.

“With quick diagnosis and effective antibiotic treatment, the fatality rate in humans and cats can be significantly lowered. Physicians who suspect plague should promptly notify the New Mexico Department of Health,” the NMDOH stated.

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