Colorado is on high alert as a squirrel found in Golden has tested positive for bubonic plague.
The Jefferson County Public Health gave a statement to CBS4 informing that the infected animal was picked up from the intersection of 15th and Jackson. On Saturday, public health officials posted warnings around the area, with the goal of reminding locals of the simple precautions they can take in order to avoid exposure.
Experts also stressed that the development is not dangerous enough to justify stopping Buffalo Bill Days from proceeding as planned as long as people are aware of the situation and exercise a little caution.
For those who don’t know, the health department informs that bubonic plague is an extremely infectious bacterial disease that’s carried by various kinds of wild rodents and transmitted mainly via flea bites. Animals that are susceptible to bubonic plague due to their fleas include squirrels, rats, prairie dogs, rabbits and cats.
Field experts also shared that when plague does break in an area, there will typically be a significant number of rodents and rabbits that have died off. After these animals take their last breathe, the fleas leave in search of another host and spread the infection to people.
Dr. Mark Johnson, director at Jefferson County Public Health, gave a statement informing that “The risk of residents contracting plague is extremely low”. He went on to add that while field experts want people to be aware that summer is the time of year when bubonic plague starts to spread, there are a handful of simple precautions that will drastically reduce the risk of contracting it.
The Jefferson County Public Health explained that the best way to keep the plague from spreading is to keep the “presence of rodents and fleas in and around the home” under control. Contact with wild, untreated rodents should also be limited if not entirely avoided. People should be particularly careful if said wild animal looks sick or is already dead.
If you do happen to find a dead rodent around your house you should not pick it up with your bare hands under any circumstances. Instead use plastic gloves and put the rodent in a plastic bag.
Your own pets (dogs and cats in particular) should be confined to the house or your own personal yard so that they don’t get into contact with any infected animals and then come back home with the newly contracted disease.
If you live in an area close to rodent populations you should see a veterinarian about flea control products and use a generous amount of the recommended ones. Especially if you have pets.
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