Laboratory testing has confirmed a case of the plague in La Plata County that led to a fatality. KSUT’s Sarah Flower has more.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment in conjunction with San Juan Basin Public Health Department have confirmed that the cause of death of a 10 year old La Plata County resident was due to the plague. According to CDPHE, in the last 15 years, there have been 22 reported human cases of the plague in Colorado, nine of which were in La Plata County. CDPHE says humans usually get the plague after being bitten by a rodent flea that is carrying plague bacterium or by handling an animal infected with plague. 

Public Health is doing an epidemiological investigation and says that while this disease is very rare, it does occur and to seek medical care if you have symptoms. The Center for Disease Control says symptoms may include a sudden onset of fever, headache, chills, weakness, and one or more swollen, tender and painful lymph nodes. The plague is treatable with commonly available antibiotics. 

The CDC says the earlier a patient seeks medical care and receives treatment that is appropriate for plague the better their chances are for a full recovery. San Juan Basin Public Health reminds residents to keep pets up to date on vaccinations and protected from fleas. The health department also says that children should be aware of these precautions and know how to tell an adult if they’ve had contact with a wild animal or were bitten by fleas.