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 is present among prairie dogs in a field near the city's airport, and county health officials are investigating the death of a 28-year-old man who had plague-like symptoms.

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