A Squirrel in Colorado Tested Positive for the Bubonic Plague
I wish this was a joke, it seems like it should be after how bizarre this whole year has been but unfortunately, many news outlets such as ABC 7 are confirming that a squirrel in Colorado has tested positive for the Bubonic Plague.
The squirrel was located in Morrison, Colorado in Jefferson County less than 20 miles southwest of Denver. Officials from Jefferson County Public Health say the plague can be contracted by humans and household pets if proper precautions are not taken.
The plague can be transmitted through bites from infected fleas and by direct blood or tissues of infected animals like a cough or bite. Health officials went on to say that cats are highly susceptible to the plague from flea bites, rodent scratches or bites, and eating an infected rodent. Cats can become ill and even lose their life if not treated quickly with antibiotics.
While dogs are less likely to get the plague, it does happen. And if you suspect any of your animals are ill you should contact your veterinarian immediately.
Symptoms of exposure to the plague include:
- High fever
- Extreme pain or swelling of lymph nodes
If you experience any of those symptoms you're encouraged to contact your physician immediately. Although the risk for contracting the bubonic plague is low there are precautions you can take to reduce your risk even further such as:
- Eliminate all sources of food around your house
- Eliminate all shelter and access for free animals around your home
- Don't feed wild animals
- Make sure your yard is litter-free and no trash is available
- Avoid all contact with sick or dead wild animals and rodents
- Make sure your pets are up on their flea and tick control products
The Center for Disease Control has said they have no vaccine for the plague but it can be treated through antibiotics if caught within the first 24 hours of showing symptoms.
On average there are seven human plague cases per year. Be careful, and make sure your animals are up to date on their flea and tick medicines.