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New Mexico reports human plague death in Lincoln County

By Nick Catlin

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    LINCOLN COUNTY, New Mexico (KOAT) — The state Department of Health has announced a Lincoln County man died from the plague. It’s the first human plague case in New Mexico since 2021.

The death comes after he was hospitalized for the bacterial disease. The New Mexico Department of Health said this is the first human death from the plague since 2020.

The disease is generally spread to humans through infected flea bites, according to NMDOH. The plague can also spread by direct contact with infected animals.

The Department of Health is doing outreach to area residents and an environmental assessment will be done.

People who are infected with the plague may feel a sudden rush of fever, chills, headache and physical weakness. Most cases see a painful swelling of a person’s lymph node in the armpit, neck and groin areas.

Infected dogs and cats usually experience a fever, lethargy and a loss of appetite. Those animals could also have swelling of their lymph nodes under the jaw.

Below is a list of recommendations provided by NMDOH:

Avoid sick or dead rodents and rabbits, and their nests and burrows. Prevent pets from roaming and hunting. Talk to your veterinarian about using an appropriate flea control product on your pets, as not all products are safe for cats, dogs or your children. Have sick pets examined promptly by a veterinarian. See your doctor about any unexplained illness involving a sudden and severe fever. Clean up areas near the home where rodents could live, such as woodpiles, brush piles, junk and abandoned vehicles. Put hay, wood, and compost piles as far as possible from your home. Don’t leave your pet’s food and water where rodents and wildlife can get to it. Back in 2020, there were four human plague cases with one being fatal. The last reported human plague case was a Torrance County resident in 2021.

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