Skip to comments.Department of Health Reports Plague Case in Torrance County Man (NM - first case in the US in 2012)
Posted on 05/31/2012 4:02:40 PM PDT by CedarDave
(Santa Fe) -- The New Mexico Department of Health confirmed today a case of plague in a 78-year-old man from Torrance County who is currently hospitalized in stable condition. This is the first human case of plague in New Mexico this year and in the United States. An environmental investigation will take place at the mans home to look for ongoing risk to others in the surrounding area.
The Department of Health takes action when a plague case occurs to ensure the safety of the immediate family, neighbors, and health care providers, said Department of Health Cabinet Secretary, Dr. Catherine Torres. We inform neighbors door-to-door about plague found in the area and educate them on reducing their risk. We determine whether individuals close to the patient may also have been exposed to the plague and recommend preventative treatment when necessary.
Plague is a bacterial disease of rodents and is generally transmitted to humans through the bites of infected fleas, but can also be transmitted by direct contact with infected animals, including rodents, wildlife and pets.
Plague activity usually begins to increase in the spring and continues into the summer months, so people need to take precautions to avoid rodents and their fleas which can expose them to plague, said Dr. Paul Ettestad, public health veterinarian for the Department of Health. Pets that are allowed to roam and hunt can bring infected fleas from dead rodents back into the home, putting you and your children at risk.
To prevent plague, the Department of Health recommends:
Avoid sick or dead rodents and rabbits, and their nests and burrows.
Keep your pets from roaming and hunting
Talk to your veterinarian about using an appropriate flea control product on your pets
Clean up areas near the house where rodents could live, such as woodpiles, brush piles, junk and abandoned vehicles.
Sick pets should be examined promptly by a veterinarian.
See your doctor about any unexplained illness involving a sudden and severe fever.
Put hay, wood, and compost piles as far as possible from your home.
Dont leave your pets food and water where mice can get to it.
Symptoms of plague in humans include sudden onset of fever, chills, headache, and weakness. In most cases there is a painful swelling of the lymph node in the groin, armpit or neck areas. Plague symptoms in cats and dogs are fever, lethargy and loss of appetite. There may be a swelling in the lymph node under the jaw. With prompt diagnosis and appropriate antibiotic treatment, the fatality rate in people and pets can be greatly reduced. Physicians who suspect plague should promptly report to NMDOH.
In New Mexico, there were two human cases of plague in 2011, no cases in 2010, and six human cases of plague in 2009, one of them fatal.
For more information, including fact sheets in English and Spanish, go to the Department of Healths website at: http://nmhealth.org/ERD/HealthData/plague.shtml
Ninety cases have been reported since 1975 with 40 percent of them have been fatal. Since it was first diagnosed* in 1993, New Mexico has had a total of 91 lab-confirmed HPS cases with 37 fatalities, the highest number of cases for any state in the nation. The news release provides information on preventing infection and a map is provided at the link shown below.
HPS Cases in New Mexico by County, 1975 ̶ 2011
* - cases prior to 1993 were reviewed and included in the count if symptomology met Hantavirus criteria.
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Those dirty rats.
Guess it’s time to spray my woodpiles, and run off the squirrels. I haven’t had a mouse problem sense my two cats moved in.