Black Death bacteria confirmed in southern Utah, but risk called low
On June 16, the Central Utah Public Health Department was notified by Craig Nichols, state epidemiologist, of a patient in Millard County with symptoms consistent with that of human plague. The patient was a young girl who was admitted to the hospital and was treated with antibiotics. After being treated the girl recovered quickly.
There are three types of plague. All of them can be fatal, if not treated. The treatment is a simply, antibiotics. Human plague is extremely susceptible to antibiotics, but fatal without.
Although dead animals around the Millard patient's home were gathered and taken to Utah State University for testing, there are no results yet. However, several dead rodents in Garfield County were tested for traces of the human plague, and four out of six were positive.
Rural Utah has been a target for the plague. Two hantavirus cases in Carbon County, one confirmed human plague case in Washington County and now one possible human plague case in Millard County. Robert Resendes, health officer of the Public Heath Department, warns all to be aware of the human plague and its symptoms.
If you have flu-like symptoms and have been exposed to rodents or fleas, you may want to visit your doctor. Although human plague may pose a threat to rural Utahns, there are only 12 cases of human plague in the United States every year.
"You are more likely to be stuck by lightning than get the plague," said Resendes.