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First person in 11 years dies of plague in Pueblo County

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Fleas are one of the carriers of the bubonic plague, which has not appeared in Colorado since 2006. (CNN)

Fleas are one of the carriers of the plague. (CNN)

PUEBLO, Colo. — A person died from plague, the first such incident in 11 years in Pueblo County, the Pueblo City-County Health Department said Wednesday.

“We extend our deepest condolences to the family,” said Sylvia Proud, public health director of the Pueblo City-County Health Department.

The identity, gender and age of the person were not released by the health department, only saying the person was an adult.

The health department said in a news release the person might have contracted the disease from fleas on a dead rodent or other animal.

“This highlights the importance to protect yourself and your pets from the exposure of fleas that carry plague,” Proud said.

The health department is working with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment in the investigation.

The health department said plague can spread by rodent populations in a localized area. The only animals that were confirmed to have had plague this year in Pueblo County were in an area of Turkey Creek in the western edge of the county.

“Although Turkey Creek is confirmed for plague after testing a dead prairie dog, it could occur elsewhere in Pueblo County as well,” Proud said. “Residents are encouraged to call and report any unusual die-off of rabbits or prairie dogs … and stay away from the die-off area.”

For more information on plague, visit cdc.gov/plague.

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