The New Mexico Department of Health announced yesterday the confirmation of the third case of human plague of the year in a 52-year-old Santa Fe County man.
Health officials say there will be an environmental investigation at the man’s house to confirm whether or not others might be at risk of being infected.
This case follows the two cases reported in children in Torrance County. In August, a 15-year-old teenage boy contracted the potentially deadly bacterial disease and earlier this month, an 11-year-old girl was diagnosed with plague.
“Whenever there is a human case of plague the Department takes several steps to ensure the safety of the immediate family, neighbors, and health care providers,” said Department of Health Secretary Retta Ward, MPH. “We inform neighbors door-to-door about plague found in the area and educate them on reducing their risk. We determine whether individuals close to the patient may also have been exposed to the plague and recommend preventative treatment when necessary.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, plague is a disease that affects humans and other mammals. It is caused by the bacterium, Yersinia pestis. Humans usually get plague after being bitten by a rodent flea that is carrying the plague bacterium or by handling an animal infected with plague.
Plague is infamous for killing millions of people in Europe during the Middle Ages. Today, modern antibiotics are effective in treating plague. Without prompt treatment, the disease can cause serious illness or death. Presently, human plague infections continue to occur in the western United States, but significantly more cases occur in parts of Africa and Asia.
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