Okay, look, this is probably not a huge deal as the bubonic plague hasn't been quite the same beast since it did its record breaking tour through Europe in the Middle Ages and killed a third of the population, but it's still pretty wild. Apparently a squirrel in Morrison, Colorado tested positive for the bubonic plague, which is the first positive test in the county. It was announced by Jefferson County Public Health, who warned that humans an household pets could catch Yersinia pestis if the proper precautions aren't taken.
The disease is passed onto humans by fleas or by coming in contact with the blood or tissues of an infected animal. Cats in particular are susceptible to infection, as they get bit by fleas. If you get it, expect symptoms like high fever, chills, headache, nausea and extreme pain and swelling of lymph nodes. Plus some plague doctors will be coming around your house with their mournful bells and pronouncements of doom.
The disease can be treated with antibiotics if diagnosed early.
Jefferson County Public Health recommends people take the following precautions to protect themselves and their pets from the bubonic plague:
- Eliminate all sources of food, shelter and access for wild animals around the home.
- Do not feed wild animals.
- Maintain a litter and trash-free yard to reduce wild animal habitats.
- Avoid contact with sick or dead wild animals and rodents.
- Use precaution when handling sick pets. Have sick pets examined by a veterinarian.
- Consult with a veterinarian about flea and tick control for pets.
- Keep pets from roaming freely outside the home where they may prey on wild animals and bring the disease home with them.