First human plague case of the year diagnosed in Santa Fe County

New Mexico

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – The New Mexico Department of Health reports that a man in his 60s from Santa Fe County has been diagnosed with bubonic plague. This is the first human plague case in the state in 2020.

NMDOH reports the man is recovering at a local hospital and that an environmental investigation will take place at the individual’s home in order to look for ongoing risks to immediate family members, neighbors, and others in the community. “This is a reminder that even during a pandemic, other infectious diseases are out that can still put your health at risk,” said Department of Health Secretary Kathy Kunkel in a press release. “All New Mexicans need to be aware of the risks for contracting diseases like plague and take the necessary precautions to avoid them.”

The plague is a bacterial disease of wildlife and is typically transmitted to humans and pets after being bitten by infected fleas. Pets can also be exposed to the disease after eating an infected animal.

To prevent the plague, the New Mexico Department of Health recommends the following:

  • Avoid sick or dead rodents and rabbits and their nests and burrows
  • Prevent pets from roaming and hunting
  • Talk to your veterinarian about using an appropriate flea control product on your pets as they are not all safe for cats, dogs, or children
  • Clean up areas near your home where rodents could live such as woodpiles, brush piles, junk, and abandoned vehicles
  • Have sick pets examined immediately by a veterinarian
  • See your doctor about any unexplained illness involving a sudden and severe fever
  • Put hay, wood, and compost piles as far as possible from your home
  • Don’t leave your pet’s food and water where rodents and wildlife can get to it

NMDOH states that symptoms of the plague in humans include a sudden onset of fever, headache, chills, and weakness. In the majority of cases, there is also a painful swelling of the lymph node in the armpit, groin, or neck areas.

If diagnosed quickly and with appropriate antibiotic treatment, the fatality rate in people and pets can be greatly reduced. Physicians who suspect plague are asked to immediately report to NMDOH by calling 505-827-0006.

In 2019, NMDOH states there was one human plague case in a man in his 70s from Torrance County. There were no human plague cases in 2018. This year, there has been one animal plague case in a dog from Santa Fe County and two cases in 2018.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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