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Plague in the United States of America (Colorado)

12 Jul 2021

According to media, public health officials in Colorado, USA have reported a 10 year old child has died from plague in the Durango area in early July 2021.

This is the first death from plague in Colorado since 2015. However, the disease is known to be present in wildlife within the state. 

Plague is a severe bacterial infection which spreads to humans mainly by the bite of infected fleas, or from having close contact with infected animals or people.

Advice to Travellers

Plague is rare in travellers. The risk is highest if you participate in activities which may bring you into close contact with local wildlife, particularly rats or other rodents. Activities which may increase this risk include:

  • camping, or staying in very basic rural accommodation
  • walking, hiking or working outdoors
  • hunting or participating in activities which involve close contact with wildlife
  • caring for a sick person who may be infected with pneumonic plague: this spreads from person to person through inhaling droplets caused by them coughing or sneezing, or by touching their infected body fluids

No vaccine is available for plague. To reduce your risk of exposure, you should:

  • practice good insect bite avoidance measures: insect repellents should protect you against flea bites
  • avoid any close contact with sick or dead animals
  • avoid crowded areas in regions where plague has recently been reported
  • seek prompt medical attention if you develop a high temperature (fever) or other 'flu-like' symptoms and there is a risk you may have been exposed to plague