Health officials confirm first case of plague in Bernalillo County

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – State health officials confirmed the first case of plague in Bernalillo County Tuesday.

The State Department of Health says a 77-year-old Bernalillo County man has contracted the disease, making this the second human case of plague in New Mexico this year. They say the other case was in a teen from Rio Arriba County who did recover.

Health officials say plague is a potentially deadly illness, and that most human cases are caused through the bite of infected fleas. Symptoms include fever, chills headaches and swelling.

So far this year, there have also been 16 cases of plague in pets, according to state health officials.

The Department of Health offers these tips to reduce the risk of plague:

  • Use insect repellent on exposed skin and clothing when you go outdoors. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends repellents containing DEET, Picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535 for use on skin, and permethrin for use on clothing. Always follow label directions when using insect repellents.
  • Keep your pets from roaming and hunting
  • Talk to your veterinarian about using an appropriate flea and tick control product on your pets as not all products are safe for cats, dogs, or your children.
  • Clean up areas near the house where rodents could live, such as woodpiles, brush piles, junk and abandoned vehicles.
  • Don’t allow children or others to handle sick or dead wildlife.
  • 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.
  • Bernalillo County citizens living east of Tramway Blvd. should report sick or dead rodents and rabbits to 311. Rodents or rabbits with obvious signs of injury (gunshot wounds, bite wounds, etc.) do not need to be reported.

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