- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 27, 2017

There are some odd thing happening in the southwest of the United States.

While images are trending on social media of street signs and garbage cans melting in extraordinarily high temperatures, the New Mexico Department of Health announced on Monday at least two confirmed cases of the plague.

That brings the total to three cases of plague in Santa Fe County for 2017, the department wrote in a statement on its website. There have been no reports of deaths.

The plague is a disease carried by rodents and transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected flea.

The CDC lists three types of plague: Bubonic, Septicemic and Pneumonic. The New Mexico DOH did not specify which type of plague the patients contracted, but noted that symptoms for the public to be aware of include “sudden onset of fever, chills, headache, and weakness… painful swelling of the lymph node in the groin, armpit or neck areas.

“Plague symptoms in cats and dogs are fever, lethargy and loss of appetite. There may be a swelling in the lymph node under the jaw.”

Early diagnosis and a treatment of antibiotics usually resolves the disease, the department advises.

While seen as a relic of the Middle Ages, the New Mexico DOH said in its statement that there were four cases of plague in 2016. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recorded 16 cases of plague in 2016 that resulted in four deaths.

The CDC says the plague was first introduced to the U.S. in 1900, carried over by infected rats on steam ships. Since the 1970s, plague cases have typically been centered around the rural West, the CDC notes.

The best way to avoid the plague is to exercise caution against rodent populations and protect against fleas that could carry the disease.

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