10-Year-Old Colorado Girl Dies of the Plague as Other Cases Are Confirmed in the State: Report

Munira Abdulla was 32 when she and her brother-in-law picked up her 4-year-old son from school.

The plague is now another disease hitting America as coronavirus continues and monkeypox found in Texas. 

A 10-year-old girl in Colorado has died from the plague as several other instances of infection have been confirmed in the state, officials said. 

The child who died earlier this month lived in LaPlata County, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) said in a statement. It's not clear how the little girl came into contact with the disease. She was a member of the youth development program 4H, specifically the Weaselskin 4H Club, one of the club’s leaders, Mike Latham confirmed to Colorado Public Radio. The club and the girl’s family declined to comment further to CPR.

The death was the first recorded from the disease since 2015, according to CBS Denver.

Authorities said there have also been laboratory confirmed reports of plague in animals and fleas from six counties in Colorado. Residents and visitors to the state are urged to be careful. 

“In Colorado, we expect to have fleas test positive for plague during the summer months," said Jennifer House, CDPHE deputy state epidemiologist and public health veterinarian. "Awareness and precautions can help prevent the disease in people. While it’s rare for people to contract plague, we want to make sure everyone knows the symptoms. The disease is treatable if caught early. Let a medical provider know if you think you have symptoms of plague or if you think you’ve been exposed."

The plague is spread through fleas on animals and can be caught by humans after handling an infected animal or an animal with fleas, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Rock squirrels, woodrats and prairie dogs are among the animals susceptible to plague. "If you notice decreased rodent activity in an area where you normally see active rodents, contact your local public health agency," the CDPHE said. "Residents should not kill prairie dogs on their property. If plague is present this could increase the risk of transmission and contracting plague."

Symptoms include sudden fever, headache, chills, weakness as well as painful lymph nodes, according to Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

The CDPHE has laid out ways to protect oneself from the plague. 

  • Avoid fleas. Protect pets with a veterinary approved flea treatment and keep them on a leash and out of wild rodent habitats.
  • Stay out of areas where wild rodents live. If you enter areas inhabited by wild rodents, wear insect repellent and tuck your pant cuffs into your socks to prevent flea bites.
  • Avoid all contact with wild rodents, including squirrels. Do not feed or handle them.
  • Do not touch sick or dead animals.
  • Prevent rodent infestations around your house by clearing plants and materials away from outside walls, reducing access to food items, and setting traps.
  • Consult with a professional pest control company to treat the area around your home for fleas.
  • Contact a veterinarian if your pet becomes ill with a high fever and/or an abscess (i.e. open sore) or swollen lymph nodes. Pets with plague can transmit the illness to humans.

Children should be aware of these precautions as well and should know to tell an adult if they have had contact with a wild animal or were bitten by fleas, officials said.

Though there is no vaccine for the disease, it can be treated with antibiotics if detected early, officials said.

The plague has been in the state for nearly 80 years, according to CBS Denver. The Denver Post reported two people were infected with the disease last year, but recovered.

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