Utah confirms 1st plague death in state since 2009

Yersinia pestis, the bacteria that causes the Plague
Yersinia pestis, the bacteria that causes the Plague | Courtesy of the CDC
The Utah Department of Health (UDH) confirmed Thursday that a resident died earlier in August from a plague infection, the first plague case to be diagnosed in the state since 2009.

Plague is a rare disease that is often passed from small mammals, fleas and ticks. UDH reports that there have been 12 cases since April across seven states: Arizona, Colorado, California, Georgia, New Mexico, Oregon and Utah.

Plague is considered to be a serious illness, but with available medicine it is treatable. Symptoms of plague include fever, chills, headache and depending on the form, pneumonia, chest pain and swelling of lymph nodes in the armpit, neck and groin.

In order to reduce the risk of infection, the UDH suggests that residents, especially in semirural and rural areas, eliminate brush, rock piles and other piles of material that could act as a habitat or food source for rodents. Any individuals involved in handling game animals should wear protective gloves and insect repellent should be applied if there is a potential risk during outdoor activities. The UDH suggests flea control products on pets so that they do not become infected. If illness presents itself seek medical attention immediately.

The UDH requests that any unusual amount of deceased animals in an area should be reported to the Utah Division of Wildlife Services.

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Utah Department of Health

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