Deadliest, Rarest Form of Plague Contracted Near Denver

Airborne version can be spread through coughing and sneezing..

by Sonali Basak and Jennifer Oldham | Bloomberg | July 11, 2014


Scanning electron micrograph depicting a mass of Yersinia pestis bacteria. Photograph: Rocky Mountain Laboratories/NIAID/NIH

Scanning electron micrograph depicting a mass of Yersinia pestis bacteria. Photograph: Rocky Mountain Laboratories/NIAID/NIH

A Colorado man is infected with the rarest and most fatal form of plague, an airborne version that can be spread through coughing and sneezing.

It is the first case of pneumonic plague seen in the state since 2004, said Jennifer House, a spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. The man, who hasn’t been identified, may have been exposed in Adams County near Denver, health officials said in a statement. While House said the man has been hospitalized and treated, she wouldn’t release other details about his situation.

“He’s on treatment long enough to not be transmissible,” House said in a telephone interview. He may have contracted the illness from his dog, she said, which died suddenly and has also been found to carry the disease.

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