The risk to humans is "extremely low," so long as precautions are taken.

Jefferson County Public Health officials announced in a statement on Sunday that a squirrel in Morrison has tested positive for the bubonic plague. The squirrel was discovered on Saturday, according to the health officials, and is the first case of the plague in Jefferson County.

"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," officials wrote, adding that the risk is "extremely low" if precautions are taken.

Recommendations from the county include eliminating all sources of food and shelter for wild animals around the home, not feeding wild animals, maintaining litter-free yards, and avoiding contact with sick or dead wild animals and rodents. Other recommendations, as noted by the health officials, include:

  • Use precaution when handling sick pets. Have sick pets examined by a veterinarian.
  • Consult with your veterinarian about flea and tick control for your pets.
  • Keep pets from roaming freely outside the home where they may prey on wild animals and bring the disease home with them.

 Symptoms of the plague include "sudden onset of high fever, chills, headache, nausea and extreme pain and swelling of lymph nodes, occurring within two to seven days after exposure." It can be treated with antibiotics when it's diagnosed early. Please consult a physician should you or anyone exhibit these symptoms.

For more information, visit Jefferson County Public Health's website.

This report of the bubonic plague in Colorado follows news of officials in China announcing that there's a suspected bubonic plague case in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

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