The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has confirmed that a ten-year-old girl is the first person to die from the plague since 2015. Officials said they have received reports of the rare bacterial infection across six counties. Between 2015 and 2021, there have been just 22 cases of the plague reported in the state.
The plague is caused by bacteria and can be spread by infected fleas. The fleas normally infect animals, but in rare cases, the infection can jump to humans if they are bitten or come in close contact with an infected animal.
Symptoms include fever, headache, chills, and swollen lymph nodes. The plague can be treated by antibiotics if detected early, but it can be fatal if left untreated.
“In Colorado, we expect to have fleas test positive for plague during the summer months. Awareness and precautions can help prevent the disease in people. While it’s rare for people to contract plague, we want to make sure everyone knows the symptoms. The disease is treatable if caught early. Let a medical provider know if you think you have symptoms of plague or if you think you’ve been exposed,” said Jennifer House, Deputy State Epidemiologist and Public Health Veterinarian for CDPHE.