Insect-Borne Diseases, Weeds Cause Concern
A couple of recent plague cases have made Colorado residents concerned about the origin of this deadly disease. Officials are keeping an eye on conditions that may contribute to more insects, particularly fleas, that spread plague.
Last month, a Ft. Collins teenager died of a rare form of the disease, septicemic plague, which can be difficult to diagnose. It is assumed he got the disease from fleas on his family’s property in rural, northern Colorado.
More recently, authorities have found evidence of dead rabbits infected with tularemia or “rabbit fever.” In addition, a deer found in El Paso County tested positive for plague was euthanized last week.
Both rabbit fever and plague are transmitted by insects. Human cases of plague are rare, and it is treatable if detected. Tularemia is also spread to humans by insects.
Near Colorado Springs, officials are making sure weed growth is kept to a minimum by enforcing weed ordinances. Local officials, however, have gone on record to state that this year’s unusual growth of weeds does not put humans at additional risk for insect-borne diseases.
Cases of tularemia and plague are somewhat higher than in past years, but they are still very rare occurrences.