An elderly person in Utah infected with plague died this month, confirmed the state health officials on Thursday. It is the first ever case reported with plague infection in Utah since 2009.
The health officials reported that they are currently investigating how, when and where the person contracted the infection. They also noted that the person hasn’t traveled to any place where plague infection is common.
JoDee Baker with the Utah Department of Health said that it is the first human case reported in Utah of plague infection since 2009. The department noted that no other information including the gender of the person is known and the investigation is underway, reported Fox 8 News.
Though there are no human cases reported, the state has had cases reported in animals almost every year, mostly in rural areas, noted the health department. Plague is commonly reported in rural and semi-rural areas of the Western United States, mostly in Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado.
Plague is found in Utah’s prairie dog population every year and the rodents like squirrels, ferrets and rabbits are more susceptible, added the health officials. Four people had died in about dozen cases reported of plague this year across seven states since April. One case each in California, Georgia, Utah and Oregon, two cases in Arizona and New Mexico and four cases in Colorado were reported by far, according to New York Post.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said earlier this month that it remains unclear why the number of plague cases is higher than usual this year. CDC noted in its report, “Health care providers should consider the diagnosis of plague in any patient with compatible signs or symptoms, residence or travel in the western United States, and recent proximity to rodent habitats or direct contact with rodents or ill domestic animals.”
“Plague circulates among wild rodents and their fleas in rural and semirural areas in the western United States,” the CDC noted. “In humans, plague is characterized by the sudden onset of fever and malaise, which can be accompanied by abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting.”