Three more cases of the pneumonic plague have been confirmed in Colorado, bringing the number of known cases up to four for 2014.
The state health department said Friday that the newest cases were people who contact with the dog who had been reported sick earlier this month. That dog has since passed away.
The plague is spread by fleas that become infected after feeding on infected rodents, especially prairie dogs. Most human cases are caused when humans are bit by the infected fleas. Officials say the original patient and dog may have contracted it in eastern Adams County.
The state health department says that along with the four confirmed cases, they have identified people who have been in contact with the infected. Those people are being monitored for symptoms and treated with antibiotics. The health department told our partners at The Gazette that they believe the exposures have been contained.
Pneumonic plague is caused by the same bacteria as bubonic plague, but it attacks the lungs and can sometimes be deadly even when treated. The health department says that a mark of the plague being in an area is when there is an unusual die-off of prairie dogs in an area. The plague is very rare, and few cases have been reported in Colorado over the last decade.