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Press Release: Human Case of Plague in Montezuma County

Montezuma County Public Health has identified a human case of plague in a Montezuma County resident.


The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) and Montezuma County Public Health Department (MCPHD) continue to investigate the case and will provide additional information as it becomes available.


Plague is caused by bacteria that can be transmitted to humans by the bites of infected fleas or by direct contact with infected animals. It can also be transmitted when a person has plague pneumonia, they may cough droplets containing the plague bacteria into air. If these

bacteria-containing droplets are breathed in by another person, they can cause pneumonic plague. Typically, this requires direct and close contact with the person with pneumonic plague.


If detected early in infection, plague is treatable in both people and pets. Symptoms may include the sudden on-set of high fever, swollen lymph nodes, or shortness of breath.


Plague is frequently detected in rock squirrels, prairie dogs, woodrats, and other species of ground squirrels and chipmunks.


MCPHD reminds residents that the risk of contracting certain animal-borne diseases, while present year-round, increases during the summer when humans and animals are frequently in close contact. Most human plague cases are acquired directly from fleas; MCPHD stresses the importance of controlling the presence of wildlife and fleas around homes through the following measures:

  • Avoid fleas. Protect pets with a veterinary approved flea treatment and keep them on a leash and out of wild rodent habitats.
  • Stay out of areas where wild rodents If you enter areas inhabited by wild rodents, wear insect repellent and tuck your pant cuffs into your socks to prevent flea bites.
  • Avoid all contact with wild rodents, including Do not feed or handle them.
  • Do not touch sick or dead
  • Prevent rodent infestations around your house by clearing plants and materials away from outside walls, reducing access to food items, and setting traps.
  • Consult with a professional pest control company to treat the area around your home for
  • Contact a veterinarian if your pet becomes ill with a high fever and/or an abscess (i.e. open sore) or swollen lymph Pets with plague can transmit the illness to humans.
  • Children should be aware of these precautions and know to tell an adult if they have had contact with a wild animal or were bitten by fleas.


To learn more about the symptoms, treatments, and other information for plague,

visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at . Information is also available from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment at Plague | Department of Public Health & Environment (

Contact Montezuma County Environmental Health Specialist 
Contact Montezuma County Septic/Wastewater Specialist