HealthPlague case confirmed in America, Colorado: Authorities urge vigilance

Plague case confirmed in America, Colorado: Authorities urge vigilance

In the USA, the first case has been confirmed. Research sheds new light.
In the USA, the first case has been confirmed. Research sheds new light.
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10 July 2024 22:29

The USA was struck by fear after a case of plague was confirmed in the state of Colorado. Authorities are urging attention to the symptoms of the disease and seeking prompt help. Meanwhile, recent studies shed new light on the spread of the plague.

Authorities in Pueblo County, Colorado, confirmed a case of bubonic plague (the most common form of plague) recorded in a human. The investigation into the infection is ongoing. The Department of Health has yet to disclose details about the manner of infection or the patient's health condition.

Alicia Solis, the head of the Office of Infectious Diseases and Emergency Preparedness, calls on everyone to take preventive measures.

We advise all individuals to protect themselves and their pets from plague – Solis appeals.

Symptoms and spread of the plague

Bubonic plague is caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, usually found in rodents, small mammals, and their fleas. Human infection occurs most often through bites, direct contact with infected bodily fluids, and inhaling droplets from infected persons or animals.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), human-to-human transmission of bubonic plague is rare. However, the disease can be transmitted when an infected person develops pneumonic plague, the most severe form of the disease. This form of plague wreaked havoc in the Middle Ages when the pandemic, known as the Black Death, decimated Europe's population. It is estimated that between 1346 and 1353, it killed up to 50 million people.

Research sheds new light on the disease

Dr David Bland and a team of scientists from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the United States, based in Maryland, conducted research shedding new light on plague transmission. The findings suggest that rats, fleas, and lice may have been responsible for the spread of the plague. According to researchers, lice are more efficient in transmitting the Yersinia pestis bacterium than previously thought.

Is there a cure for bubonic plague?

Unlike in the Middle Ages, when patients were treated with bloodletting or herbal smoke, bubonic plague can be relatively easily treated today with antibiotics. Early diagnosis is, however, extremely important.

The symptoms of bubonic plague can appear one to eight days after infection. The first sign is painful lymph nodes, usually closest to where the bacteria entered the body. Other symptoms include fever, headache, chills, and weakness.

If the disease spreads to the lungs, it can cause shortness of breath, chest pain, cough, and sometimes bloody or watery discharge. This form of the disease is called pneumonic plague.

Untreated bubonic plague can lead to tissue necrosis, causing the skin and other tissues on the fingers, nose, and other body parts to turn black and die.

Cases of plague around the world

The plague has occurred in animals and caused human epidemics on all continents except Oceania. From 2010 to 2015, 3,248 cases and 584 deaths were reported worldwide. Most cases occur in Africa, particularly in Madagascar, which reports up to 700 cases annually, and in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Peru.

In the USA, an average of seven cases are reported annually, mainly in rural areas in the West. The last urban plague pandemic in the USA occurred in Los Angeles and ended in 1925.

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