A New Mexico man has died of plague

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A New Mexico man has died from plague in the state’s first human fatality since 2020, according to health officials.
The man lived in Lincoln County — located in the southeastern part of the state — and was hospitalized from the disease before dying, the New Mexico Department of Health said in a press release last week.
The last human plague case in the state was a resident of Torrance County in 2021, according to the health department.
Computer illustration of plague bacteria is seen here in an undated stock photo.
STOCK PHOTO/Getty ImagesAlthough plague is often associated with killing millions of Europeans during the Middle Ages, it is not an eradicated disease, State Public Health Veterinarian Dr. Erin Phipps told ABC News.
Phipps said there are three types of plague: bubonic plague, which is associated with enlarged lymph nodes called buboes; septicemic plague, which occurs when the bacteria enter the bloodstream; and pneumonic plague, which is when the infection enters the lungs.
“Bubonic plague has the enlarged lymph nodes but otherwise, the symptoms [of plague] are similar to several other diseases,” Phipps said.
Before antibiotics, two-thirds of people who contracted plague died of the disease, according to Phipps.
Computer illustration of plague bacteria is seen here in an undated stock photo.
The news of the New Mexico man’s death comes just a month after an Oregon resident contracted plague, likely from their cat, according to health officials in the state.

Humans can contract the plague by flea bites or contact with infected animals.

Health officials in New Mexico report that a man has succumbed to the plague, marking the first human death in the state since 2020.

The New Mexico Department of Health said in a press release last week that the man, who resided in Lincoln County, which is in the southeast of the state, was hospitalized before passing away from the illness.

There was no other identifiable information about the man, not even his name, age, or race/ethnicity.

The CDC states that the plague is treatable with widely available antibiotics and that early medical attention increases the patient’s chances of making a full recovery.

According to the NMDOH, employees are contacting locals and will be doing an environmental assessment to identify potential risks.

The health department reports that a resident of Torrance County was the last person to contract the plague in the state in 2021. There were four human cases in 2020: the fatal Rio Arriba County case, two in Torrance County, and one in Santa Fe County.

This undated stock image shows a computer illustration of plague bacteria. STOCK IMAGE via Getty Images.

Dr. Erin Phipps, a state public health veterinarian, told ABC News that although plague is frequently linked to the deaths of millions of Europeans during the Middle Ages, the disease is still present today.

“The Black Death, which wiped out most of Europe’s population, was brought on by this same bacteria, which is still around today. Even now, she said, it is still in circulation.

A bacterium called Yersinia pestis is the cause of plague. It grows naturally in the western United States. s. especially in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and rural and semi-rural areas, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report.

Usually, it affects rodents found in the wild, such as wood rats, prairie dogs, chipmunks, mice, and rock and ground squirrels. Humans can get the plague by direct contact with an infected animal, such as a pet, or by being bitten by a rodent flea carrying the bacterium.

According to Phipps, there are three different kinds of plague: pneumonic plague, which happens when the infection enters the lungs; septicemic plague, which happens when the bacteria enter the bloodstream; and bubonic plague, which is linked to enlarged lymph nodes called buboes.

Typical additional symptoms include chills, fever, headache, and weakness.

“Aside from the enlarged lymph nodes, the symptoms of plague are similar to several other diseases,” Phipps stated. And that’s part of the difficulty, too. It’s not always on people’s radars because it’s rare. “.

This is why getting a diagnosis from a qualified doctor is crucial to starting treatment, the speaker said.

According to Phipps, two-thirds of those who contracted the plague died from the illness before antibiotics were developed. She said that the plague kills roughly 10% of people nowadays.

The NMDOH advises putting pet food away to keep rodents away, clearing out spaces around the house where they could live, keeping hay and wood as far away from the house as possible, and preventing pets from roaming and hunting in order to lower the risk of plague.

This undated stock photo shows a computer illustration of plague bacteria. STOCK IMAGE via Getty Images.

In addition, consult your doctor if you exhibit any symptoms of an unexplained illness and get a sick pet checked out right away by a veterinarian.

People are unaware that the plague is not a disease of the past, according to Phipps. Every year, we receive cases from the western part of the country. By raising awareness, we hope to promote early diagnosis and consent. “.

“While it’s not something to get too worked up about, it will help if people keep it in mind if they live in wild areas or close to wild rodent populations, especially if they have pets both indoors and outdoors. ****.

The New Mexico man’s death was announced barely a month after Oregon health officials said a resident had contracted plague, probably from their cat.

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