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10th Jul 2024

Human case of bubonic plague has been confirmed in US

Simon Kelly

The case was confirmed on Tuesday.

A person in the United States has become infected with a very rare case of the bubonic plague.

The disease was rampant in Europe between the years of 1347 and 1351, killing around 50 million people in what was known as the ‘Black Death’ pandemic.

Luckily for us, infections these days are extremely rare, however health officials in Pueblo County, Colorado have confirmed a human infection.

Last week, state and local officials identified a case of ‘plague’ based on preliminary test results. On Tuesday morning, it was confirmed to be bubonic plague.

HSE Overcrowding
(Credit: iStock)

Human case of bubonic plague has been confirmed in US

According to the World Health Organisation, Plague is transmitted between animals and humans by the bite of infected fleas, direct contact with infected tissues, and inhalation of infected respiratory droplets.

The difference between contracting it now rather than the 14th century is down to massive advances in medication, meaning that it can be treated fairly swiftly with antibiotics.

However, medication has to be administered rapidly to avoid serious illness or death.

As an animal disease, plague is found in all continents across the world, except Oceania.

There is a risk of human plague wherever the presence of plague natural foci (the bacteria, an animal reservoir and a vector) and human population co-exist.

In March, a man in New Mexico, USA, died from plague, state health officials announced.

There was also a case announced in the state of Oregon in February, which likely stemmed from an infected pet cat.