Man in NM diagnosed with Bubonic Plague, recovers

A New Mexico man has been positively confirmed as the United States’ first bubonic plague sufferer in 2011.

The 58-year-old man, who lives in Santa Fe County, experienced severe groin and abdominal pain, high fever and swollen lymph nodes. He spent a week in the hospital, but has since been released, and public health officials have not released his name.

It’s believed the patient contracted the rare illness (only 10 to 15 people in the US become ill from bubonic plague each year) from a flea bite on his left leg. Public health officials in New Mexico warned residents that although the disease is rare, its ominous reputation and ‘Black Death’ moniker is there for a reason- and to know it’s possible to contract plague from animals:

It’s spread to people by direct contact with infected animals such as prairie dogs, squirrels, cats, rats and mice. The odds of this happening are low, but take care anyway. Plague fully deserves its dread-disease status and can be fatal if not treated promptly.

Although we now have antibiotics to treat bubonic plague, one in seven cases of the illness is deadly.