Squirrel in Colorado Tests Positive for Bubonic Plague

A squirrel in Colorado has tested positive for bubonic plague, according to a posting on the Jefferson County, Colorado, public health site.

The squirrel was found in the Town of Morrison, 17 miles southwest of Denver, and is the first cause of plague in the county, according to officials.

“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,” the site warned.

Humans can be infected through bites from infected fleas or by the cough of an infected animal or by direct contact with blood or tissues, such as through a bite of an infected animal.

Cats are highly susceptible to plague and might die if not treated promptly with antibiotics, the site noted, though dogs are less so.

Symptoms include sudden onset of high fever, chills, headache, nausea, extreme pain, and swelling of lymph nodes. Plague can be treated with antibiotics with an early diagnosis.

Multiple pandemics of bubonic plague have broken out over the centuries before the advent of antibiotics, most notably in the Middle Ages, when it was known as the Black Death. It killed a third of the population of Europe.

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