Health officials stated the risk of people getting infected is “extremely low” if they observe proper precautions.
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- Colorado health officials stated a squirrel tested positive for the bubonic plaque
- It is the first case of the disease in the Town of Morrison, Jefferson County
- Although highly infectious, the risk of contracting the disease is extremely low
Colorado health officials announced a squirrel in the state tested positive for the bubonic plague. Health officials reported the squirrel was the first documented case of the disease in the Town of Morrison in Jefferson County.
Bubonic plague is an infectious illness caused by the Yersinia pestis bacteria. Scientists said the disease spreads through bites of infected fleas and can affect not only humans but also household animals.
The World Health Organization explained those suffering from the disease experience their lymph nodes getting inflamed. The painful swollen glands are, in some countries, called “bubo.”
While the disease is highly infectious, health officials stated the risk of getting infected is “extremely low” if people observe proper precautions. They added among household animals, cats are highly vulnerable to plague and can die if they are not promptly treated with antibiotics.
squirrel in Colorado tests positive for bubonic plague Photo: eluxirphoto – Pixabay
Aside from flea bites, felines can contract bubonic plague from a rodent bite or scratch. Ingestion of a contaminated rodent can also cause infection. Dogs are, however, not as vulnerable to the plague. But, they may unknowingly pick up the plague-infected fleas from rodents or felines. As for humans, they can get the infection through bites from animals or fleas, health officials wrote.
The public health department told pet owners to consult their veterinarian if they think their pet is sick. Officials also advised pet owners living within close proximity to wildlife habitats, like prairie dog colonies, to seek advice from a veterinarian about flea control. Health officials reminded everyone to take precautions when handling their sick pets.
Bubonic plague signs include headache, chills, nausea, and high fever, among other symptoms, occurring within a week after exposure. However, as long as the plague is detected early, it can be successfully treated with antibiotics. Those who experience the symptoms should immediately consult a doctor.
To protect against bubonic plague, Jefferson County Public Health recommends residents to get rid of all sources of food, shelter, and access for wild animals within the surroundings of their home. Health officials also warned against feeding wild animals and making contact with dead or sick wild animals or rodents.
Residents should also ensure they keep a trash- and litter-free yard to minimize the risk of wild animals rummaging through them.