Rats carrying fleas infected with Y. pestis bacteria spread the plague throughout medieval Europe, killing millions of people.
The New Mexico Department of Health is reporting two confirmed cases of the plague in Santa Fe County, CBS affiliate KRQE reports.
Officials say both recent cases were in women, one age 52 and the other 62.
Plague bacteria, Yersinia pestis.
This makes it a total of three cases reported in the area in 2017.
The Department of Health says all three required hospitalization but there have been no deaths related to the plague so far this year.
People can get the plague through bites from infected fleas or contact with infected rodents and other wildlife.
"Pets that are allowed to roam and hunt can bring infected fleas from dead rodents back into the home, putting you and your children at risk," Dr. Paul Ettestad, public health veterinarian for the Department of Health, said in a press release. "Keeping your pets at home or on a leash and using an appropriate flea control product is important to protect you and your family."
To prevent plague, the Department of Health also recommends:
Talk to your veterinarian about using an appropriate flea control product on your pets as not all products are safe for cats, dogs, or your children.Clean up areas near the house where rodents could live, such as woodpiles, brush piles, junk and abandoned vehicles.Sick pets should be examined promptly by a veterinarian.See your doctor about any unexplained illness involving a sudden and high fever.Put hay, wood, and compost piles as far as possible from your home.Don’t leave your pet’s food and water where mice can get to it.
Symptoms of plague in humans include sudden onset of fever, chills, headache, and weakness. In the majority of cases, there is also a painful swelling of the lymph node in the groin, armpit or neck areas.
In cats and dogs, plague symptoms usually manifest as fever, lethargy and loss of appetite.
If you think you or your pet may have the plague, seek medical attention immediately. Prompt diagnosis and treatment with antibiotics can greatly reduce the fatality rate in people and pets.