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Plague found in fleas collected after death of girl in La Plata County

Humans can contract the plague bacterium, Yersinia pestis, when bitten by a rodent flea that is carrying this pathogen, or by handling an infected animal. Murine typhus, due to Rickettsia typhi bacteria, can also be transmitted by rodent fleas to humans.
The plague-positive fleas were collected from a prairie dog colony that went ‘silent’ shortly after a 10-year-old girl died

Laboratory tests confirmed the presence of the plague in fleas collected in La Plata County after a 10-year-old girl died from the disease earlier this month, public health officials said.

The plague-positive fleas were collected from a private property in south central La Plata County after residents reported a nearby prairie dog colony had gone “silent” and that the activity of the animals was no longer visible, said Dr. Jennifer House, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s state veterinarian Monday. Health officials have not confirmed the girl who died was infected by fleas from the colony under investigation.

Health officials were notified of the potential case July 5 and days later, confirmed that the girl died from the plague — the state’s first human plague death since 2005. The Durango Herald reported that the fourth grader raised hogs in 4-H.

Read more at The Colorado Sun

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