Fourth plague case confirmed in New Mexico

The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDH) announced Wednesday that a case of human plague in Sana Fe County has been confirmed by a laboratory.

Potentially fatal, plague is caused by bacteria often found in rodents and small mammals. Symptoms of the plague include a sudden fever; chills; and swelling of lymph nodes in the neck, armpit and groin regions of the body. Individuals showing these symptoms should seek medical attention immediately. 

“This is the fourth case of plague in New Mexico with the patient presenting clinical signs of septicemic plague,” Department of Health Secretary Retta Ward said. “Though septicemic plague is less common and harder to recognize than the more common form of bubonic plague, health care providers need to consider plague in their diagnosis when the patient has a fever of unknown origin and when the patient is from plague endemic areas of the state.”

The NMDH states that cases this year are most likely the result of infected fleas brought into the home by pets that are allowed outside. Eight pets in the state have been confirmed as plague cases.

The NMDH encourages the use of insect repellent and avoiding contact with rodents and other wildlife, especially if they appear sick. Pet owners should consult with their vet on an appropriate flea and tick control products.

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