Sunday, November 28, 2021

Bubonic plague found in Colorado cat

A domestic cat near Elk Meadows Open Space in Evergreen tested positive for bubonic plague in late October, officials said Monday.

Jefferson County Public Health detailed in a news release that the cat may have encountered a sick rodent. This is the first cat to be hit by plague in Jefferson County this year.

“While plague is a serious disease, and cases of animal-borne disease in domestic pets are not something we like to see, it is common and every year in Jefferson County for some animals to contract the plague. There is hope,” said Jim Rada, director of environmental health services at Jefferson County Public Health in the release. “The good news is that modern antibiotics are effective against plague, and as long as it is treated promptly, serious complications, illness, or death can be avoided.”

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Plague is an infectious disease caused by Yersinia pestis bacteria. Humans and domestic animals can become vulnerable to disease if proper precautions are not taken. Some of these steps include eliminating all sources of food, shelter and access for wild animals around the home and maintaining a garbage-free yard. Officials also recommend avoiding contact with sick or dead animals, using precautions around sick pets, and talking to a veterinarian about flea control when pets are in contact.

Humans and pets can be infected with plague from flea bites if they are infected. The disease can also be spread by coughing, biting and blood of animals.

Andy Colwell, Special for The Denver Post

A couple walks along the Pioneer Trail of Jefferson County Open Space in this 2017 file photo. A house cat near Elk Meadows Open Space in Evergreen tested positive for bubonic plague in late October, 2021.

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