A Michigan resident recently contracted Bubonic plague after a visit to Colorado, health authorities confirmed Monday. The case is the first reported this year in the state and the 14th diagnosis nationwide.
The life-threatening disease is not native to Michigan and occurs when a person is bitten by an infected flea or rodent with the bacterium Yersinia pestis, according to the Michigan Department of Community Health. Infected populations often live in Western, rural areas of the country. Bubonic plague cannot travel from person to person. The Michigan resident lives in Marquette County and is recovering, according to department officials.
Someone who has contracted the plague becomes ill within one to seven days. Lymph nodes swell and cause painful lumps, as well as fever, headache, chills and fatigue. The disease can be treated with antibiotics.
Only about five to 15 cases are reported each year in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. From 2001 to 2012, the United States saw an average of less than one death each year from the disease.
Spread of the disease can be controlled and no longer remains a serious risk to Americans, ABC News reported. To contain the disease, state health departments and the CDC test rodents to track the spread of plague bacteria in the wild. Areas with infected rodents and fleas are sprayed with insecticide.
Nearly a century has passed since the country's last outbreak of bubonic plague in 1924 and 1925 in Los Angeles. The disease also is associated with the Black Death pandemic that ravaged Europe during the Middle Ages.
Globally, the World Health Organization reports 1,000 to 3,000 cases of plague each year.
In addition to Michigan's recent diagnosis, there have been two cases in Arizona, one in California, four in Colorado, one in Georgia, two in New Mexico and one in Oregon, CNN reported. Reports before the news of the Michigan case said that the youngest of the patients was 14 and the oldest 79.