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Plague discovered in 6 Colorado counties after 10-year-old dies

LA PLATA COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment says there have been laboratory confirmed reports of plague in animals and fleas from six counties.

One of the six counties with confirmed plague is LaPlata County, where a 10-year-old resident died from causes associated with plague. Laboratory testing has since confirmed the presence of plague in a sample of fleas collected in the county, according to CDPHE.

A spokesperson for CDPHE said the other five counties where plague was detected are: San Miguel, El Paso, Boulder, Huerfano and Adams.

CDPHE said that plague is caused by bacteria that can be transmitted to humans by the bites of infected fleas or by direct contact with infected animals.

If detected early in infection, plague is treatable in both people and pets. Symptoms include the sudden on-set of high fever and/or swollen lymph nodes, according to CDPHE.

“In Colorado, we expect to have fleas  test positive for plague during the summer months.  Awareness and precautions can help prevent the disease in people. While it’s rare for people to contract plague, we want to make sure everyone knows the symptoms. The disease is treatable if caught early.  Let a medical provider know if you think you have symptoms of plague or if you think you’ve been exposed,” said Jennifer House, Deputy State Epidemiologist and Public Health Veterinarian for CDPHE.

Here are some helpful tips from CDPHE: