By Claire Ninde
San Juan Basin Public Health
San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH) has identified a human case of septicemic plague in a La Plata County resident, transmitted by fleas from a ground squirrel. Septicemic plague cannot be transmitted human to human and the individual has recovered from the disease.
Bubonic plague is the most common form of plague; septicemic plague is seen less often. Symptoms typically include fever, chills, extreme weakness, abdominal pain, shock and possibly bleeding into the skin and other organs. Septicemic plague can be contracted by handling an infected animal or from bites of infected fleas. The last case of human plague in La Plata County was in 2014.
Tips to protect yourself and your family from getting plague:
• Do not touch or approach wild animals.
• Wear gloves if you must handle sick or dead animals.
• Do not let pets sleep in your bed with you. This has been shown to increase your risk of getting plague.
• Use an insect repellent containing DEET or permethrin (for use on clothing) to prevent flea bites. Be sure to follow the label directions for use.
• Eliminate rodent habitats such as firewood or lumber piles, trash and weeds from around your home or recreational cabin.
• Rodent-proof houses and outbuildings.
Learn More: To learn more about plague visit www.cdc.gov/plague.