Colorado man diagnosed with rare form of plague

Colorado Man Diagnosed With Rare Form Of Plague

This might sound like the plot of a scary sci-fi thriller - but it's real.

A Colorado man caught the rarest and most fatal form of the plague and it can be spread in the air from coughing and sneezing.

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Colorado man diagnosed with rare form of plague
People praying for relief from the bubonic plague, circa 1350. Original Artwork: Designed by E Corbould, lithograph by F Howard. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Plague (19th century depiction), Bubonic plague is a zoonotic disease, circulating mainly among small rodents and their fleas. (Photo by Universal History Archive/UIG/Getty Images)
Victims of the Black Death being buried at Tournai, then part of the Netherlands, 1349. The Black Death was thought to have been an outbreak of the bubonic plague, which killed up to half the population of Europe. From the 'Chronique et Annales de Gilles le Muisit'. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

It's called pneumonic plague and the last confirmed case was in 2004. According to the health department, 60 human cases have been identified in Colorado since 1957 - nine of those were fatal.

It's caused by the same bacteria as the bubonic plague but it targets the lungs.

The man has not been identified, but health officials believe he caught the infection from his dog, which died unexpectedly and also tested positive for lethal pathogen. Fortunately, they don't think the virus is out in the air putting others at risk.

The state's Department of Public Health and Environment's press release explains the man and his dog might have been exposed in Adams County, near Denver and anyone walking in open spaces and trails should avoid contact with rodents.

Officials are looking for people who may have had contact with the man so they can be treated with antibiotics.

Earlier this year, archaeologists in England uncovered bones from a cemetery for victims of the bubonic plague that ravaged Europe in the 14th century.

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