A La Plata County resident has tested positive for septicemic plague, which health officials believe was transmitted by fleas from a ground squirrel.
San Juan Basin Public Health announced the positive case Wednesday, saying the last case of human plague in the county was reported in 2014. The person who tested positive has since recovered.
Septicemic plague cannot be transmitted from human to human, the health department said. It’s a far less common type of plague than, say, bubonic plague.
Septicemic plague symptoms include fever, chills, extreme weakness, abdominal pain, shock and possibly bleeding from the skin or organs.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, septicemic plague can occur as the first symptom of plague or may develop from untreated bubonic plague. People are infected typically though flea bites or handling an infected animal.
Plague is often treated through a variety of antibiotic medicines, the CDC said. Without treatment, however, the disease can cause serious illness or death.
SJBPH reminded residents to prevent contracting the disease by not touching wild animals, wearing gloves if you must handle sick or dead animals, use insect repellent to prevent flea bites and rodent-proof houses and areas around homes.
SJBPH also says to not sleep with pets in beds, which the health department said has been shown to increase the risk of getting plague.