A man in Colorado has been diagnosed with rare Pneumonic Plague, a disease not seen in the state of Colorado for over a decade. Similar to the Bubonic Plague, the pneumonic form of the sickness is the only form of the plague that can be transmitted person-to-person via sneezing or coughing.
Reuters news service, via Fox News, wrote: “The man was found to have the disease after the family dog died unexpectedly, and a necropsy concluded the animal was afflicted with pneumonic plague, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said in a statement. The unidentified man and his dog were believed to have contracted the disease in an eastern Colorado county. There was no word on the man's condition.”
The three versions of the plague are all caused by the same bacterium, but onset in different areas of the body. Pneumonic Plague, the most virulent type, affects a person’s respiratory system and lungs. The Bubonic Plague is an infection of the lymphatic system and a third version infects the blood steam.
Since 1957, only 60 human cases of Pneumonic Plague were reported in Colorado. Of those, nine proved to be fatal.
“Although human cases occur infrequently, plague is severe and potentially life-threatening if not detected and quickly treated with common antibiotics,” the CDC said.
Explains the Business Insider: “While the last plague epidemic in the United States was back in 1924, when 37 people died in Los Angeles, the much-feared disease still surfaces in humans from time to time, though it's very infrequent — and fully treatable with antibiotics if it's caught in time.”
“The plague... spread from urban rats to rural rodent species, and became entrenched in many areas of the western United States,” the CDC explains. “Since that time, plague has occurred as scattered cases in rural areas.”
Worldwide, the World Health Organization said they receive approximately one to two thousand reports of the various forms of the plague each ear, with the most of those being centralized in Africa.