Colorado squirrel tests positive for plague, but state health officials say there’s no cause for concern – The Denver Post
A squirrel in El Paso County has tested positive for plague, which often appears in Colorado’s wild rodents during the summer, the state health department announced Tuesday.
The case is not unusual for Colorado, but the Department of Public Health and Environment warns that people should take precautions to protect themselves and their pets. The squirrel tested positive for the plague last week, according to the news release.
“Plague has been present in Colorado since at least the 1940s, and cases in wild rodents in the state are reported most years,” said Dr. Jennifer House, state public health veterinarian, in a statement. “While we see most plague activity during the summer, the disease can be found in rodents year-round and sometimes spills over into other wildlife species as well as domestic cats and dogs.”
In 2020, plague was found in animals last summer in Adams and Broomfield counties. Two people also became infected with plague last year after exposure to sick animals and survived, according to the news release.
Plague is spread to people by the bite of an infected flea, infected animal tissues, fluids or respiratory droplets. Symptoms include sudden fever, headache, chills and weakness. There is no vaccine available, but people and animals can be treated with antibiotics, according to the health department.
The agency recommends people protect themselves and their pets by not directly handling wildlife; keeping pets from wildlife, including dead rodents and rabbits; not allowing pets to hunt rodents or rabbits or prairie dogs, according to the news release.
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