(NaturalNews) Many aren't aware of this, but in the Western U.S. especially, something as tiny as a flea can transmit life-threatening diseases that can spread into full-blown deadly plagues. In Colorado recently, one of the deadliest forms of the plague hospitalized a man and took out his dog. Colorado health officials believe the life-threatening disease, pneumonic plague, was likely transmitted by fleas.
Pneumonic plague takes out man's dog, sends him to hospital
The infected man is being treated, but his dog wasn't as fortunate. After killing the man's dog, the pneumonic plague has since spread to three other people -- an outbreak unlike any in the past decade. Since 1957, Colorado has documented 60 cases of pneumonic, bubonic and septicemic plagues. Nine people have died since 1957. In the past decade alone, 12 cases have reared their ugly heads. Four cases in a matter of weeks is a huge uptick in occurrence but doesn't pose a serious threat, according to Colorado health officials.
Trying to be honest about the situation, without underscoring the fear, Jennifer House, a spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, stated, "We've had quite a number of cases this year."
"We do believe the outbreak itself to be over," she said.
Is the outbreak contained?
How can the Colorado Health Department be so sure that the plague is over?
After all, if the fleas are still harboring the disease, households with pets may be more susceptible. The Colorado health officials believe that the fleas are carrying the disease which was first contacted from infected prairie dogs or rabbits. Fleas can pick up the Yersinia pestis bacterium from infected mammals like prairie dogs, ground squirrels, mice and chipmunks.
What's more is that pneumonic plague is the most serious form of the plague and is transmitted through coughing and sneezing. The bacteria enter its victim through the person's lungs and respiratory system.
There are two other plagues that can crop up in the Western U.S. Septicemic plague is contacted when the bacteria make their way into the bloodstream. Bubonic plague penetrates underneath the skin. The plague typically affects Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado. According to the CDC, about seven people are infected yearly in the U.S.
While four cases in such a short amount of time is rare and concerning, officials aren't raising the alarm and find the outbreaks to be completely normal in states like Colorado.
In Adams County, Colorado, where the initial outbreak began, all fears are set aside. Jim Siedlecki, director of public information for the county, said in a phone interview, "While this is not a daily, weekly, or monthly occurrence, it isn't without precedence. A case of plague where fleas and prairie dogs are involved isn't earth shattering for Colorado."