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Michigan resident diagnosed with bubonic plague

Posted at 5:07 PM, Sep 14, 2015

LANSING, Mich. (WXYZ) - A Michigan resident who recently returned from Colorado has contracted the bubonic plague, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

The MDHHS said the Marquette County resident was visiting an area in Colorado that had reported plague activity.

The plague is a rare, life-threatening, flea-borne illness. The bacteria occurs in nature among wild rodents and their fleas in rural and semi-rural areas of the western United States, according to MDHHS.

An average of three human cases are reported a year across the country, but there is an increase in reported cases this year, with 14 human cases, including four deaths.

The plague does not occur naturally in Michigan, and this is the first ever report of plague in a Michigan resident, the MDHHS said.

“People who are traveling and recreating outdoors in the western U.S. should be aware of the risk for exposure to plague,” Chief Medical Executive for MDHHS Dr. Eden Wells said. “Use insect repellent on your clothing and skin and make sure that any pets that may be along are receiving regular flea treatments.”