Colorado: Plague confirmed in Boulder County cat

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From NewsDesk @infectiousdiseasenews

A cat who lives near the North Foothills Highway and Plateau Road in Boulder County was examined by a veterinarian on June 2 and tested positive for plague. The cat’s owner was concerned when the cat got sick with a baby rabbit 2-3 weeks after being found.

Image by Katzenspielzeug from Pixabay

This is the first time plague activity has been confirmed in Boulder County this season, and public health officials are keen to remind residents how to protect themselves from the plague.

Boulder County Parks and Open Space has been notified of the positive plague in the area and warning signs are being posted in this neighborhood with precautions to take to avoid the plague.

“Since the plague is most commonly transmitted by fleas, measures to prevent flea exposure can help prevent the disease from spreading,” said Carol McInnes, Boulder County’s Public Health Environmental Health Specialist.

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Public health officials recommend the following precautions to reduce the chance of exposure to the plague:

  • AVOID FLeas! Protect pets with flea treatment recommended by your veterinarian, and keep pets on a leash and out of wildlife habitats.
  • STAY OUTSIDE from areas inhabited by wild rodents and rabbits. When entering areas with rodents or rabbits, wear insect repellant with DEET and tuck pant cuffs into socks to prevent flea bites.
  • AVOID any contact with wildlife, including rabbits and squirrels; do not feed or handle them.
  • DO NOT TOUCH sick or dead animals.
  • PREVENT Rodent Infestation Around Your Home: Remove plants and materials from outside walls, reduce access to food, and set traps.
  • TO TREAT digs into your property if you find dead rabbits or rodents with an EPA-approved insecticide for use against fleas and follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the label.

Pets, like dogs and cats in particular, can either get the plague or carry infected fleas home to their owners. In rare cases, the plague can be transmitted to humans from cats suffering from plague.

“Keeping cats indoors is the best way to protect them from the plague,” said McInnes. “Pet owners should also discuss with their vets how best to protect their pets from fleas.”

The plague is naturally occurring in Colorado and is an infectious disease that is transmitted to wild rodents and other small mammals such as prairie dogs and rabbits through fleas. The bubonic plague is the most common form of the plague and occurs after a bite from an infected flea. The plague can spread to humans when infected fleas from rabbits, prairie dogs, and other wild rodents bite a human.

Symptoms of the plague include a high fever, extreme fatigue, and painful swollen lymph nodes. If you observe these symptoms in a person or pet, it is important to contact your doctor or veterinarian immediately. Plague can be treated with antibiotics, but this treatment is most effective when the disease can be diagnosed quickly.

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