A Colorado squirrel became the first confirmed case of the bubonic plague in the United States this year. Now, health officials are warning the public about staying safe and taking proper precautions.
The squirrel was found in the town of Morrison outside Denver and was tested on Saturday, Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) said in a statement.
While the case appeared in a squirrel, officials are warning that humans and pets can be infected through bites, coughs and fleas, and should be extra cautious if they live near wild rodent populations, like prairie dog colonies.
Cats are especially susceptible since they may approach an infected rodent, and dogs, while less pre-disposed to contracting the bubonic plague, could pick up infected fleas.
Symptoms including high fever, chills, headache, nausea and extreme pain and swelling of lymph nodes, occurring within two to seven days after exposure, should be reported to either a doctor of a veterinarian. If diagnosed early, the bubonic plague can be treated with antibiotics, health officials said.
Officials are also warning locals to take precautions, including staying away from wild animals and making sure there is no food left outside.
This follows a suspected case of the bubonic plague in a human in China’s Inner Mongolia. China’s state-run publication, Xinhua news agency, announced earlier this month that the suspected case appeared in a hospital in Bayannur, about 550 miles west of the country’s capital Beijing.