EVERGREEN, Colorado (CBS4) – A cat is infected with the plague in Jefferson County. Jefferson County Public Health officials said Monday that a domestic cat that lives in Evergreen tested positive for bubonic plague in late October.
They believe it came into contact with a sick rodent – possibly a rat.
It is the first epidemic in Jefferson County this year.
Jim Rada, the director of Environmental Health Services at JCPH, says modern antibiotics are effective against the plague.
“While the plague is a serious disease and cases of animal-borne disease in pets are never something we love to see, it is normal and expected for some animals to contract the plague each year in Jefferson County,” Rada said in a prepared declaration.
Humans can become infected through bites from infected fleas or through indirect exposure such as coughing or direct exposure – such as a bite – from an infected animal. An infected person or animal may have a high fever, chills, headache, nausea, and lymph node swelling. Symptoms show up within two to seven days of exposure. With timely treatment, serious complications, illness, or death can be avoided.
Two human plague cases were reported in Colorado last year, and both patients survived. Both people were exposed to sick animals, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
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The plague has been present in Colorado for at least 80 years.
The CDPHE says the following measures can be taken to protect you and your pets from the plague:
– Do not treat wildlife directly.
– Keep pets away from dead rodents and rabbits.
– Dogs and cats should be prevented from chasing prairie dogs, other rodents, or rabbits.
– Follow a veterinarian’s advice on treating fleas if it affects a pet.
– Feeding wild animals, other than birds, is a big no-go. It attracts the animals to your property and brings them into close contact where disease transmission is more likely.
Health officials urge the public to call their offices if they think an animal may be infected or if they see numerous wildlife suddenly dying, which could be a sign that the plague is present and spreading.