A second person in Colorado has died from the plague. The Pueblo County resident died on Wednesday from an unspecified form of the plague. Earlier this year a 16-year old from Larimer County passed away after contracting the a rare form of the plague, the septicemic plague. Another Colorado man is recovering in Boulder County and is believed to have contracted the disease after encountering a dead chipmunk.
An average of seven human plague cases is reported across the United States every year though Colorado alone saw eight cases in 2014. It is a naturally occurring infectious disease in the state that mostly affects the animal population. The plague can be transferred to humans through flea bites or by touching an animal affected by the disease.
Communicable disease epidemiologist Jamie Feld says that Colorado's unusually wet spring and summer account for the increase in the number of plague cases. Fleas thrive in damp, moist environments and are able to survive for a long period of time, even without a host in such locations.
Feld offered a few plague prevention tips, which include wearing long sleeves and gloves, and using a long-handled shovel, when removing dead rodents, as well as wearing bug spray when outside. Never touch a dead rodent without gloves, as the flu-like disease can be contracted by humans through direct skin contact.
People can recover from the plague, as long as it is diagnosed and treated early. It's advisable to seek medical treatment if you experience high fever, weakness, chills, fatigue, mental confusion, and muscle ache.