Growing. 8 (UPI) – A man in New Mexico in the 20s has died of septicemic plague, the health authorities say. It is the first human plague death in New Mexico this year and the second case this year in the state.
According to the New Mexico Department of Health, the man lived in Rio Arriba County and died after being hospitalized.
The Department of Health said officials will conduct an environmental survey of the man’s home to determine ongoing risk to family members and neighbors.
On July 27, a Santa Fe County man in his 60s was diagnosed with bubonic plague.
Plague is a bacterial disease in rodents that is usually transmitted to humans through the bites of infected fleas.
But it can also be transmitted through direct contact with infected animals, including rodents, wildlife and pets, officials said.
There are three forms of plague, with symptoms that vary depending on how the person was exposed to the bacterium, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
“Pest activity in New Mexico is usually at its peak during the summer months, so it is especially important now to take precautions to avoid rodents and their fleas that can expose you to plague,”
According to the CDC, while cases of plague are rare in the United States in the 21st century, they still occur, with health departments reporting an average of seven cases per year, with most occurring in rural areas.
New Mexico officials say this is the first human plague-related death in New Mexico since 2015.
There was a single human plague case in 2019 with a 78-year-old man, and no human plague cases in the state by 2020.
There have also been two animal plague cases in New Mexico this year: one in a dog and one in a cat.
The New Mexico Department of Health recommends avoiding sick or dead rodents and rabbits, taking sick pets to the vet, and preventing pets from roaming and hunting – and using appropriate flea control products on pets.