A Denver man is being treated for pneumonic plague, a very deadly form that has the added (terrifying) bonus of being transmissible by coughing and sneezing. Investigators are investigating to see if anyone else has been infected.
It all started when his dog died suddenly, and was found to have had the plague, which is usually carried by fleas and transmitted by flea bites. Then the man tested positive for the illness—but has now reached a level of treatment where he’s no longer contagious.
Every year in the US there are a few plague cases. Rarely is there an outbreak, or even a risk of one. But that’s usually thanks to infections being more mild versions of the plague, and not occurring in cities, but in rural areas. Colorado usually gets one of the annual cases.
The last urban outbreak occurred in Los Angeles in the 1920s. Since then, antibiotics have been invented, and we can easily treat cases as long as we catch them (it’s rare enough that antibiotic resistance is not even an issue).
Want to avoid the plague?
-Make sure you use some sort of flea repellant/treatment on all cats and dogs you own.
-Keep other pets, like rabbits, indoors.
-Stay away from any dead animals you come across—investigators think this is the number one source of plague transmission. Call animal control to remove any dead animals you come across.
-If you have a pet die suddenly, take it to a vet to investigate. If you show any odd symptoms (especially respiratory symptoms) see a doctor.
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