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Plague case reported in Archuleta County

By Dale Rodebaugh Herald staff writer

In the first confirmed case of bubonic plague in the state since 2006, an Archuleta County resident has tested positive for the disease.

The last human case in Archuleta County was in 1998.

Although the investigation is ongoing, it is believed that the person contracted the plague during a family outing in the Cimarrona Campground northwest of Pagosa Springs, a news release from the San Juan Basin Health Department said.

The department declined to give the gender or age of the victim.

Warning signs are being posted in the campground and environs in cooperation with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the U.S. Forest Service.

The plague often spreads through rodent populations.

Joe Fowler, a disease-control nurse at San Juan Basin Health Department, said the Archuleta County case is the first confirmed human plague in Colorado since 2006.

In that year, there were four cases statewide, all in La Plata County, Fowler said.

The state had three cases of plague each in 2004 and 2005.

The health department news release said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports an average of seven cases of plague each year across the country.

Most human cases tend to occur in rural areas in two regions northern Arizona and New Mexico and southern Colorado and California, southern Oregon and western Nevada.

Symptoms of plague swollen lymph glands, sudden onset of fever or chills, severe headache or extreme exhaustion begin two to six days after a person is bitten by an infected flea, rodent or cat.

The plague can be successfully treated if diagnosed promptly.

Two animals have tested positive for plague so far this year.

daler@durangoherald.com

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