Wyoming detects rare human case of pneumonic plague
September 15, 2021
The Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) today announced the detection of a rare but severe case of pulmonary plague in a resident of northern Fremont County.
Plague is a bacterial infection that can be fatal to humans and other mammals, including pets, if not treated promptly with antibiotics. This disease can be transmitted to humans by sick animals or by fleas from infected animals; in this case, the person has been in contact with sick pet cats.
Plague can also be passed from person to person through close contact with someone with pneumonic plague. People with known exposure to plague need post-exposure treatment with antibiotics to help prevent the disease. WDH advises people who may need this type of treatment.
The symptoms of plague depend on how the patient is exposed. The most common form is bubonic plague, where patients develop a sudden onset of fever, headache, chills, and weakness, and one or more swollen and painful lymph nodes called buboes. This form usually results from the bite of an infected flea. People with septicaemic plague develop fever, chills, extreme weakness, abdominal pain, shock, and possible bleeding in the skin and other organs. Septicaemic plague can be the first symptom of plague or can develop from untreated bubonic plague and can be caused by the bite of an infected flea or handling an infected animal. People with pneumonic plague develop fever, headache, weakness, and rapidly developing pneumonia with shortness of breath, chest pain, and sometimes watery or bloody mucous membranes.
Pulmonary plague is the most serious form and the only one that can be passed from person to person. Pulmonary plague can develop from inhaling infectious droplets or can develop from untreated bubonic or septicaemic plague.
Dr Alexia Harrist, public health official and state epidemiologist with the WDH, said that while the risk for humans of contracting plague is very low in Wyoming, the disease has been documented throughout the country. Condition in domestic and wild animals.
“It’s safe to assume that the risk of plague exists all around our state,” Harrist said. “Although the disease is rare in humans, it is important that people take precautions to reduce exposure and seek medical attention promptly if symptoms consistent with plague develop.”
To reduce the risk of plague, WDH recommends:
- Reduce rodent habitats around the home, workplace, and recreation areas by removing brush, rock piles, garbage, cluttered firewood, and any rodent food stores.
- Wear gloves if handling or skinning potentially infected animals to avoid contact between your skin and plague bacteria.
- Use a repellant if flea exposure is possible during activities such as camping, hiking, or working outdoors. Products containing DEET can be applied to the skin as well as to clothing.
- Keep fleas away from pets and outdoors by applying flea control products. Animals that roam freely outdoors are more likely to come into contact with animals or fleas infected with plague.
- If the animals get sick, see a veterinarian as soon as possible.
- Do not let loose dogs or cats share beds with people.
This case of human plague is the seventh believed to have been acquired in Wyoming since 1978. Other recorded cases in Wyoming include a 1978 out-of-state case acquired in Washakie County, a county case. of Laramie in 1982, a Sheridan County case in 1992 that resulted in death, a Washakie County case in 2000, a 2004 out-of-state case acquired in Goshen County, and an out-of-state case in Goshen County. 2008 state acquired in Teton County.