Possible Bubonic Plague Death in Colorado

C O L O R A D O   S P R I N G S, Colo., June 20, 2001 -- Tests show bubonic plague ispresent among prairie dogs in a field near the city's airport, andcounty health officials are investigating the death of a28-year-old man who had plague-like symptoms.

Dr. Tisha Dowe, head of the El Paso County Department of Healthand Environment, on Tuesday ordered warning signs posted to keeppeople out of the area. A man who lived near the prairie dog colony died Monday aftersuffering symptoms similar to those caused by the plague. Tests todetermine the cause of death will take several days, officialssaid. The plague is deadly in humans if left untreated. It spreadsthrough bites from infected fleas. County health officials collected fleas and at least one deadprairie dog from the colony and shipped them to the federal Centersfor Disease Control and Prevention to test for plague. Dowe said the man who died, whose name wasn't being releasedimmediately, frequently rode a bicycle through the area where theinfection was found.

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