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New Mexico Man Dead from Bubonic Plague

'Plague is a bacterial disease of rodents and is generally spread to humans through the bites of infected fleas.'

New Mexico Man Dead from Bubonic Plague

A New Mexico man has died from the bubonic plague.

The Lincoln Country resident, who has not been publicly identified, had previously been hospitalized with a bacterial infection.

The New Mexico Department of Health announced the death in a press release on Friday.

“We extend our deepest sympathy to the family of the Lincoln County man who succumbed to plague,” said State Public Health Veterinarian Erin Phipps, DVM, MPH. “This tragic incident serves as a clear reminder of the threat posed by this ancient disease and emphasizes the need for heightened community awareness and proactive measures to prevent its spread.”

The department explained, "Plague is a bacterial disease of rodents and is generally spread to humans through the bites of infected fleas. It can also spread by direct contact with infected animals, including rodents, wildlife and pets."

Dogs and cats allowed to roam freely outside are at a higher risk of picking up infected fleas from dead rodents and bringing them inside homes.

Symptoms of the plague in humans include sudden onset of fever, chills, headache and weakness.

"In most cases there is a painful swelling of the lymph node in the groin, armpit or neck areas," the department warned. "Plague symptoms in cats and dogs include fever, lethargy and loss of appetite. There may be a swelling in the lymph node under the jaw."

To prevent plague, the NMDOH recommends that you:

Avoid sick or dead rodents and rabbits, and their nests and burrows.
Prevent pets from roaming and hunting.
Talk to your veterinarian about using an appropriate flea control product on your pets as not all products are safe for cats, dogs or your children.
Have sick pets examined promptly by a veterinarian.
See your doctor about any unexplained illness involving a sudden and severe fever.
Clean up areas near the home where rodents could live, such as woodpiles, brush piles, junk and abandoned vehicles.
Put hay, wood, and compost piles as far as possible from your home.
Don’t leave your pet’s food and water where rodents and wildlife can get to it.

If diagnosed quickly, the death rate in both people and pets can be greatly reduced.

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