This digitally colored scanning electron micrograph (SEM) shows the purple-colored bacteria Yersinia pestis, the pathogen responsible for bubonic plague.
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
The New Mexico Department of Health said on Friday that a man in his 20s had died of sepsis.
The death marks the first human death from the plague in the state since 2015.
The department said the plague originated in wildlife, namely rodents, and was often transmitted to humans by fleas.
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A New Mexico man in his 20s has died of sepsis in the state’s first death since 2015, the state’s Department of Health said Friday.
The department said the man was based in Rio Arriba County, state, and died after being hospitalized.
« An environmental investigation will take place at the person’s home to look for a continuing risk to immediate family members, neighbors and others in the surrounding community, » the department said in a statement about the death.
The man’s death marks the first plague-related death in New Mexico since 2015, according to the department. Last year, the state recorded just one case of human plague in a 72-year-old man.
Plague is caused by the bacteria yersinia pestis and usually originates from animals such as rodents. Fleas are a common link for humans to catch infection, the department said.
The department says common symptoms of plague in humans include « sudden onset of fever, chills, headache and weakness », often with « painful swelling of the lymph nodes in the groin, armpits. or the neck ”. With immediate diagnosis and antibiotic treatment, « the death rate in people and pets can be dramatically reduced, » according to the department.
To prevent plague, the department recommends that humans protect themselves and their pets from contact with wildlife or fleas.
Business Insider’s Kevin Loria previously reported that the bacteria that causes plague can lead to septicaemic plague that either appears on its own or turns into bubonic plague. Infections are persistent in the American West in part because of the high number of wild rodent populations.
The story continues
According to CDC data, the United States only sees an average of seven reported cases of human plague each year.
Department of Health Secretary Kathy Kunkel warned residents of the state in a statement that « plague activity in New Mexico is generally highest during the summer months, so it is particularly important now to take precautions to avoid rodents and their fleas which can expose you to plague ”.
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