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Biological Health Threat – Plague | Human Infection (Update): Santa Fe County, New Mexico


Published Date: 2017-06-26 22:35:42
Subject: PRO/AH/EDR> Plague – USA (08): (NM)
Archive Number: 20170626.5132081

[1] Date: Mon 26 Jun 2017
Source: New Mexico Department of Health [edited]

The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) is reporting 2 recent confirmed plague cases in 52-year-old and 62-year-old females from Santa Fe County. With the addition of these cases, there have been 3 human plague cases from Santa Fe County in 2017. All 3 cases required hospitalization. There have been no deaths from plague in 2017.

NMDOH conducted environmental investigations around the homes of the patients to look for ongoing risk and to ensure the safety of the immediate family and neighbors.

Plague is a bacterial disease of rodents and is generally transmitted to humans through the bites of infected fleas, but can also be transmitted by direct contact with infected animals, including rodents, wildlife and pets. Plague can be present in fleas that infest wild rodents in Santa Fe County, including the city limits of Santa Fe, and several other New Mexico counties.

“Pets that are allowed to roam and hunt can bring infected fleas from dead rodents back into the home, putting you and your children at risk,” said Dr. Paul Ettestad, public health veterinarian for the Department of Health. “Keeping your pets at home or on a leash and using an appropriate flea control product is important to protect you and your family.”

Communicated by:
Paul Ettestad DVM, MS
State Public Health Veterinarian
Infectious Disease Epidemiology Bureau
Epidemiology and Response Division
New Mexico Department of Health

[2] Date: Mon 26 June 2017
From: Paul Ettestad <> [edited]

These cases all come from various locations in Santa Fe County so there is no single focal point of plague activity. New Mexico has had laboratory confirmed plague cases in 5 cats and 12 dogs from various counties in North Central New Mexico (Santa Fe, Torrance, Los Alamos, Sandoval, Bernalillo, Rio Arriba, and Taos counties) so plague activity is fairly widespread in this area.”

Communicated by:
Paul Ettestad DVM, MS
State Public Health Veterinarian
Infectious Disease Epidemiology Bureau
Epidemiology and Response Division
New Mexico Department of Health

[The manifestations of _Yersinia pestis_ infection in this case, the 2nd and 3rd for 2017, are not stated in the report but it is likely to have been bubonic plague.

2015 was a “banner year” for _Y. pestis_ infections in the USA with 15 cases and 4 deaths. In recent decades, an average of 7 human plague cases have been reported each year (range: 1-17 cases per year) with 0-2 deaths.

The following was extracted from: Prentice MB, Rahalison L. Plague. Lancet. 2007; 369(9568): 1196-207, with the citations removed:

“Some plague cases (10-25 percent) present with primary septicemia (hypotension, shock) without lymph nodes being obviously affected and these patients have higher mortality than those with bubonic plague. The term septicemic plague can be confusing, since most patients with buboes have detectable bacteremia at some stage and can also have high-density bacteremia with systemic signs of sepsis. Debate about whether septicemic plague is always secondary to frank or subclinical bubonic or pneumonic disease continues, but work in mice lends support to the existence of a syndrome of septicemic disease without histological changes in lymph nodes in a few animals infected by flea bites.” – Mod.LL

A HealthMap/ProMED-mail map can be accessed at:]

See Also

Plague – USA (07): (CO) feline 20170615.5108564
Plague – USA (06): (NM) 20170606.5087671
Plague – USA (05): (CO) feline, bubonic, alert: corr 20170506.5017288
Plague – USA (05): (CO) feline, bubonic, alert 20170505.5014699
Plague – USA (04): (NM) feral cat, alert 20170419.4980169
Plague – USA (03): (NM) feline, canine 20170412.4965194
Plague – USA (02): (CO) prairie dog, alert 20170318.4910519
Plague – USA: (NM) canine 20170211.4832639

Plague – USA (05): (NM) human ex prairie dog 20160903.446342
Plague – USA (04): (NM) 20160720.4357878
Plague – USA (03): (NM) 20160618.4295323
Plague, tularemia – USA (NM) alert 20160615.4289092

Plague – USA (16): (NM) septicemic 20150924.3668691
Plague – USA (15): (MI) ex CO, bubonic 20150911.3639675
Plague – USA (14): (NM) septicemic 20150904.3622887
Plague – USA (13): (UT) fatal 20150828.3608570
Plague – USA (12) 20150826.3602201
Plague – USA (11): (GA) ex CA, comments 20150822.3596108
Plague – USA (10): (NM) 20150822.3595447
Plague – USA (09): (GA) ex CA 20150821.3593443
Plague – USA (08): (CA) 20150819.3589079
Plague – USA (07): (CO) 20150808.3566831
Plague – USA (06): (CA) 20150807.3563153
Plague – USA (05): (CO) fatality 20150806.35
Plague – USA (04): (NM) pneumonic, fatality 20150726.3537026
Plague – USA (03): (CO) bubonic 20150721.3526149
Plague – USA (02): (CO) fatality 20150623.3458401
Plague – USA: (CO) pneumonic, canine source, poss. human-to-human spread, 2014 20150501.33354756

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