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Colorado confirmed pneumonic plague case often carried by prairie dogs

Pneumonic plague is a bacterial infection mainly spread by fleas who have been on infected rodents and hop on to a new host. Prairie dogs are common carriers of the disease.
Theodore Roosevelt State Park

The first case of the pneumonic plague since 2004 occurring in Brighton was confirmed earlier this week by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Center for Disease Control reported ABC News.

Originating from the bubonic plague prevalent in Europe during the Middle Ages, the bacterial infection is transmitted by fleas to rodents - usually prairie dogs. When the prairie dog dies, the fleas find another host. In this case, authorities believe it was the patient's dog who contracted the disease and died unexpectedly.

After a necropsy was performed on the dog and tested positive for the disease, authorities are searching for anyone who may have been in the eastern Adams County area where the case was confirmed. The disease is spread by coughing or sneezing from airborne droplets.

Citizens are warned to avoid open spaces and trails where prairie dogs are prevalent.

Since 1957, there have been 60 confirmed pneumonic plague cases; of the reported cases, nine people died.

The patient has not been identified. The disease is curable if treated early with antibiotics. Symptoms include fever, headaches, body weakness, congestion and shortness of breath.

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