Case of human plague identified in Navajo County

Bubonic plague bacteria from a patient (CDC)

County health officials in northeastern Arizona said a man has contracted the human plague and are warning the public to take precautions to limit the risk of exposure.

Navajo County Assistant Manager Bryan Layton said Friday that a man over the age of 55 was being treated for the disease amid an investigation into how it was contracted.

Humans typically get plague after being bitten by an infected flea that is carrying the plague bacterium or by handling an animal infected with plague. Modern antibiotics are effective in treating plague, though the disease can cause serious illness or death without prompt treatment.

The Navajo County Health Department encouraged people to avoid rodent burrows and keep dogs on a leash.

Human symptoms of plague usually appear within two to six days of contact and include fever, chills, headaches and often a swelling of lymph nodes under the armpit.