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What to know about plague and how to protect yourself

KOB.com Web Staff
June 28, 2017 05:19 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- When you hear about the plague, what comes to mind? Maybe a medieval disease?

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So far, there are three cases of the plague in New Mexico this year. The recent cases in Santa Fe County have some people wondering why this nightmare from history keeps appearing in New Mexico.

While it's still the same disease, it's nowhere near as bad today as it was in medieval Europe. Thank modern medicine for that. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say it's easily treatable with antibiotics.

The key is to get it taken care of early.

WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF PLAGUE?

Watch out for a sudden onset of fever, headache, swollen lymph nodes, and in some cases, pneumonia. If you suspect you have the plague, see a doctor immediately.

HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU'RE AT RISK OF THE PLAGUE, AND WHY IS IT IN NEW MEXICO?

Plague is still spread the same way it was in medieval Europe: from infected fleas. The CDC says back in 1900, rats carrying these fleas arrived in Los Angeles from the Far East and started spreading the disease across the southwestern United States.

Today, most cases are centered in the Four Corners region and scattered across the west.

Fleas carrying the disease go after local squirrels, mice, rabbits, and other rodents who like this climate. When you or your pets interact with infected wildlife, you risk catching the plague.

SO HOW DO YOU PREVENT GETTING THE PLAGUE?

First, keep clear of rodents and remove any junk around your home where they could live. If you have to work with possibly infected animals, wear gloves.

If you're hiking, use flea repellent and keep your pets clear of fleas.

If you do allow your pets to roam free, don't let them sleep in your bed.

For more information, click here.

Credits

KOB.com Web Staff

Copyright 2017 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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