Outbreak fears as PLAGUE found across Colorado after girl, 10, died from horror disease

A COLORADO girl, 10, has died of the plague, sparking fears the killer disease could spreading across the state after more cases were confirmed.

Lab tests confirmed the disease – which spreads through flea bites – in La Plata County, where the fourth grader tragically died.


Other cases were detected in San Miguel, El Paso, Boulder, Huerfano and Adams counties, a Colorado health official told CBS 4 Denver.

Humans catch the disease through flea bites or by handling infected animals, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

It's believed the fleas that killed the Colorado girl may have come from a pack of prairie dogs, Jennifer House, Epidemiologist and Public Health Veterinarian for Colorado's Health Department said on Monday.

The school girl is the first person to die from the disease in Colorado since 2015 and is 21st human case in the state since 2005, according to the Denver Post.

The ten-year-old, whose identity has not been shared, was a fourth grade student at Sunnyside Elementary School in Durango.

"She was raising hogs in 4-H this year and had just finished playing softball. She had a most beautiful smile and was so very sweet!" a letter by a county youth official read.

It's common to have fleas test positive for plague during the summer months.

While prairie dogs are extremely susceptible to the disease, other rodents such as squirrels, wood rats and chipmunks could also infect people.

"We can honestly see plague in most locations. The majority of our positive animals come more from rural areas, but we have seen plague approaching the metro area," House added.

"While it’s rare for people to contract plague, we want to make sure everyone knows the symptoms. The disease is treatable if caught early."

Symptoms can include sudden fever, headache, chills, weakness and painful lymph nodes, the Colorado health official said.

The plague can only be treated by antibiotics if detected early.

The plague is a naturally occurring bacteria that is passed on to humans through flea bites and has the potential to spread quickly.

According to the CDC, between one and 17 cases of the plague, on average, are reported annually in humans in the US.

Most cases occur in northern New Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon and southern Colorado.

The Plague

The plague still infects people today and, if treated too late, will lead to death.

The plague, also known as the Black Death, ravaged Europe, North Africa and Central Asia between 1346 to 1353, killing some 200million people.

There are three main types; bubonic, septicemic and pneumonic and each vary in symptoms and how they're spread.

The bubonic plague – scientifically known as Yersinia pestis – is the one that devastated Europe during the Middle Ages, and is believed to have originated in Central of East Asia. The first case was detected in Crimea in 1347.

It was introduced in the US in 1900 when rat-infested steamships sailed from infected areas in Asia into North American port towns.

Los Angeles was hit by a plague epidemic in 1924, which lasted a year.

About 80% of US cases have been the bubonic plague and it infects roughly 17 people per year.

According to the World Health Organization, between 1,000 and 2,000 cases are reported globally each year.

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