A man in his 20s has died of bubonic plague in New Mexico, state health officials confirmed on Friday.
His death came just days after another case of plague, in the man in the 60s, became the first diagnosis in the state this year.
The two men lived more than a hundred miles apart, so it is unlikely that the cases are linked, but health officials are now investigating the home and family of the young man who died of the rare infection.
It comes after a squirrel in neighboring Colorado tested positive for Yesinia Pestis bacteria, which causes bubonic plague and reports of a potential outbreak in China.
A man in New Mexico in the 20s has become the first to die from the plague in the US this year after getting Janinia Pestis bacteria (picture, in red file)
Chinese officials have sealed a town and village in the country’s inner Mongolia following reports of bubonic plague deaths there this year.
It is the same disease that killed about 50 million people – including about 60 percent of Europe’s population – in the 14th century and was named “Black Death”.
These days, cases of bubonic plague are very rare, but still very deadly.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that there are between 1,000 and 2,000 cases of plague globally each year.
Between 30 and 100 percent of these cases turn out to be fatal, according to the WHO.
In the United States, there are only seven cases of plague in a typical year. Only about eight to 10 percent of Americans who catch the plague usually die, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
WHAT are the three types of ailments?
There are two main forms of plague infection that are both caused by the same bacteria – Yesinia pestis.
Bubonic plague is the most common form of plague and is spread by an infected flea bite. The infection spreads to immune glands called lymph nodes, which causes them to become swollen and painful and can develop into open sores. Human-to-human transmission of bubonic plague is rare and is usually captured from animals.
If the plague infects the lungs – either by the progression of the bubble form through the body or by infecting the infection from an infected patient or the animals’ breath – it is called pneumonic plague.
Pneumonic plague is significantly more deadly and can take as little as 24 hours. Human-to-human spread in this way is easy and if the condition is not diagnosed and treated quickly, it is often fatal.
Symptoms of both forms of infection include pain in the legs and head, fever, vomiting and weakness. Pneumonic plague also causes coughing and coughing up blood.
Septicaemic pest occurs when the infection spreads to the blood. This is much rarer and can cause the blood to coagulate around the body – it is almost always fatal.
Source: WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION
Yesinia Pestis bacteria mainly affect animals, usually rodents.
If these rodents are bitten by fleas, the bugs can then spread it to their next hosts, including other animals and humans.
People can usually carry the plague without symptoms for about two to six days if they are bitten by an infected flea.
What happens next depends on whether the person has bubonic plague – the type responsible for most of the deaths from black death, and is characterized by very swollen, bulbous lymph nodes often in the groin, armpit or neck – septicemic plague, or pneumonic plague.
The man who died in New Mexico had a septicemic form.
In that case, the symptoms may appear more quickly – within one to three days – if they have inhaled infectious drops from coughing or sneezing into someone else who has the plague.
Most patients first appear with fever and chills and may become extremely weak.
Many will then develop abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting and some people will bleed from the mouth, nose or rectum. Blood can be visible in the skin.
If the infection is bad enough, it can poison the bloodstream, which can lead to septic shock and potential cold sores that make the extremities black when the tissue dies off.
The same thing can happen to organs if they are exceeded by the bacteria, which can lead to multiple organ failure and death.
Treatment with antibiotics can improve the odds of survival, but it must be started quickly to work. Patients decline rapidly, with some dying within 24 hours of their first symptoms.
Experts recommend that the best thing to do with the plague is to take all possible measures to not get it.
The New Mexico Department of Health warned that pets that are allowed to roam freely outside – especially if they can wander to wildlife areas – are a primary source of infection and recommended keeping animals indoors as much as possible.
The young man’s death is the first plague death reported in New Mexico since 2015, and probably in the United States this year.
Although rare somewhere in North America, cases. most often grow up in New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona.