Michigan confirms plague case

Yersinia pestis, the bacteria that causes the plague | Courtesy of the CDC

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) confirmed on Monday that a Marquette resident was diagnosed with bubonic plague.

The woman had recently returned from an area of Colorado where plague activity had been reported. 

MDHHS cautioned that there is no concern of human-to-human transmission, and the patient has received appropriate medical care and was recovering.

“People who are traveling and recreating outdoors in the western U.S. should be aware of the risk for exposure to plague,” Dr. Eden Wells, chief medical executive for MDHHS, said. “Use insect repellent on your clothing and skin, and make sure that any pets that may be along are receiving regular flea treatments.”

Nationally there has been 14 cases of the plague reported this year, according to the MDHHS. Of those, four people died. The average plague case count annually is typically three people.

In humans, the plague is potentially fatal. Symptoms include malaise, abdominal pain, fever, nausea and vomiting. It is typically transmitted through a bite from an infected flea or through the direct contact with an infected animal. 

People who are at highest risk for infection are usually in a setting that provides shelter and food to rodents, including cabins, campsites and rural areas. Anyone engaging in outdoor activity is advised to wear long pants and use insect repellent.

The plague does not occur naturally in Michigan, the MDHHS said.

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Michigan Department of Health and Human Services 235 South Grand Avenue Lansing, MI 48933

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