Squirrel tests positive for infectious disease in Colorado


A squirrel has become the first case in the Town of Morrison, Jefferson County after testing positive for the bubonic plague.

Humans can get infected via bites from animals or infected fleas. Public health officials noted: “Plague is an infectious disease caused by the bacteria Yersinia pestis, and can be contracted by humans and household animals.” However, if adequate measures are taken, the risk of contracting the plague is “extremely low,” they stated. Officials wrote: “Cats are highly susceptible to plague and may die if not treated promptly with antibiotics. Cats can contract plague from flea bites, a rodent scratch/bite, or ingestion of a rodent. Dogs are not as susceptible to plague; however, they may pick up and carry plague-infected rodent fleas.”

The public health department urged owners of pets to confer a veterinarian if they presume their pet is infected. Pet owners residing nearby wildlife habitats, i.e. prairie dog colonies, ought to inquire about flea control from their veterinarian as well. Symptoms of bubonic plague can include chills, nausea, high fever, and headache, among other indications, happening within a week of vulnerability. Though, upon early diagnosis, the disease can be treated with antibiotics.

The following precautions should be taken to protect against the plague: 1. Do not feed wild animals. 2. Eliminate all sources of shelter, access, and food for wild animals around the home. 3. People and pets should avert touching ill or dead wild rodents and animals. 4. Keep a trash- and litter-free yard to lessen wild animal habitats. 5. Talk with your veterinarian about tick and flea control for your pets. 6. Have ill pets tested by a veterinarian. Be careful when dealing with sick pets. 7. Keep pets from freely wandering outside the domicile where they may target wild animals (e.g. a squirrel) and bring the plague home with them.


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Aaron Granger


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