The Centers for Disease Control, released a report today stating that the first case of dog to human plague has been officially identified and confirmed in a middle-aged Colorado man.
According to Medical News Today, a Colorado man suspected of Pneumonia was hospitalized on July 8, 2014. After his conditions worsened more tests were conducted by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) only to find a bacteria responsible for a form of pneumonic plague.
Interviews with the hospitalized man’s family confirmed their test result. Turns out, the family’s male American Pit Bull Terrier fell gravely ill on June 24th. The pup’s condition deteriorated quickly, and one point he was coughing up blood. Due to the Pittie’s terrible health status, he had to be euthanized the following day.
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“The dog’s liver and lung tissues were tested for presence of Y. pestis after its owner became ill. The results were positive, confirming that the man had contracted pneumonic plague from the animal – the first report of such an incidence in the US.” says Medical News Today.
The CDC states that this case is not just the first dog-to-human transmission of plague in the U.S., but also the first human-to-human transmission of the disease in over a century.
Medical News Today confirms that, all patients infected by the bacteria have made a full recovery following treatment with antibiotics.
The biggest question from this has been, “Should we be worried?” According to the CDC’s report, the human plague is rare in North America however it’s a cause for concern in the Western U.S. where wild rodents still carry the bacteria.
The CDC report’s authors say:
“The risk for plague can be minimized by avoidance of possibly infected rodents (e.g., prairie dogs) and their fleas. All suspected or confirmed plague cases and rodent die-offs in areas where plague is endemic should be reported immediately to public health officials so that exposures can be minimized to prevent additional transmission.”
Due to the myriad of highly effective treatments available today it’s unlikely that the plague will be as deadly as the middle ages. No matter what, as long as people are vigilant and taking precautions it shouldn’t be a major cause for concern.