A squirrel in Colorado has tested positive for the bubonic plague, officials from Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) have reported. The squirrel, found in Morrison, Colorado, is the first case of plague in the county.
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“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,” a statement released by JCPH says.
The JCPH warns that humans can contract the plague “through bites from infected fleas and by direct contact with blood or tissues of infected animals such as a cough or a bite.”
“Symptoms of plague may include sudden onset of high fever, chills, headache, nausea and extreme pain and swelling of lymph nodes, occurring within two to seven days after exposure,” the JCPH continued. “Plague can be effectively treated with antibiotics when diagnosed early. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should consult a physician.”
The statement also warns that all pet owners who live in close proximity to wild animal populations should contact a veterinarian regarding flea control and seek immediate help if their animal is ill.
Another case of the Bubonic Plague was recently discovered in the Chinese region of Inner Mongolia.