A man in his 20s has died of bubonic plague in New Mexico, state health authorities confirmed on Friday.
His death came only a few days after another case of plague, in man in his 60s, became the first diagnosed in the state this year.
The two men lived more than one hundred miles apart, so it's unlikely the cases are linked, but health officials are now investigating the home and family of the young man that died of the rare infection.
It comes after a squirrel in neighboring Colorado tested positive for Yesinia Pestis bacteria, which causes bubonic plague and reports of a potential outbreak in China.
A New Mexico man in his 20s has become the first to die of the plague in the US this year after contracting Yesinia Pestis bacteria (pictured, in red file)
Chinese officials have sealed off a city and a village in the nation's Inner Mongolia region after reports of bubonic plague deaths there this year.
It's the same disease that killed about 50 million people - including some 60 percent of Europe's population - in the 14th Century, earning it the name 'the Black Death.'
These days, cases of bubonic plague are exceedingly rare, but still highly fatal.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that there are between 1,000 and 2,000 cases of plague globally each year.
Between 30 and 100 percent of those cases prove fatal, according to the WHO.
In the US, there are only about seven cases of plague in a typical year. Only about eight to 10 percent of Americans who catch plague typically die, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate.
There are two main forms of plague infection both caused by the same bacteria – Yesinia pestis.
Bubonic plague is the most common form of plague and is spread by the bite of an infected flea. The infection spreads to immune glands called lymph nodes, causing them to become swollen and painful and may progress to open sores. Human-to-human transmission of bubonic plague is rare and it's usually caught from animals.
If plague infects the lungs – either by the bubonic form progression through the body or by catching the infection from an infected patient or animal's breath – it is called pneumonic plague.
Pneumonic plague is significantly more deadly and can take hold in as little as 24 hours. Human-to-human