Squirrel tests positive for bubonic plague in Colorado


A squirrel in a Colorado town has reported positive for bubonic plague, according to a statement by the Jefferson County Public County Health (JPCH).

“On Saturday, July 11, 2020, a squirrel found in the Town of Morrison tested positive for bubonic plague,” the JPCH statement said. “The squirrel is the first case of plague in the county. Plague is an infectious disease caused by the bacteria Yersinia pestis, and can be contracted by humans and household animals if proper precautions are not taken.”

Humans, it explained, may be infected with plague through bites from infected fleas, by the cough from an infected animal or by direct contact (e.g., through a bite) with blood or tissues of infected animals.

The incident comes days after a man reportedly died of bubonic plague in inner Mongolia area of China after eating a wild marmot.

Symptoms of bubonic plague include high fever, chills, headache and nausea, occurring within a week after exposure.

“Cats are highly susceptible to plague and may die if not treated promptly with antibiotics,” the JPCH warned.

It suggested these steps: Eliminating all sources of food, shelter and access for wild animals around the home. Not feeding wild animals. Maintaining a litter and trash-free yard. Avoiding contact of people or pets with sick or dead wild animals and rodents. Using precaution when handling sick pets. Having sick pets examined by a veterinarian. Consulting with veterinarian about flea and tick control for pets, and keeping pets from roaming freely outside the home.