The Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment is urging everyone to be careful around animals after six counties found plague in mammals and fleas and the state recorded it First death due to this disease after 2015.
The state did not release a full list of counties, but said La Plata is one of them. The 10-year-old who died of the plague earlier this month was a resident of La Plata County.
Plague is caused by bacteria and is usually spread through the bite of an infected flea. Prairie dogs, squirrels, chipmunks and other rodents carry many fleas and become infected themselves, so everyone should avoid getting close to those animals, the Department of Health said in a news release.
Colorado 22 human cases reported According to the state health department, plague outbreaks from 2015 to 2020. About half of the cases were in La Plata County, although at least one case has been reported in Adams, Archuleta, Boulder, Denver, Grand, Larimer, Mesa and Pueblo counties over the past six years.
Plague has a high mortality rate if left untreated, but antibiotics are effective against it, especially in the early stages. symptoms Includes fever, headache, chills and swollen lymph nodes. Less commonly, people can develop pneumonia-like symptoms or go into septic shock if the bacteria spread to the lungs or through the bloodstream.
If you notice that prairie dogs or other rodents suddenly disappear from an area where they were previously seen, call your local health department to investigate whether plague may have spread there. If there is plague in animals, the health department may have to close the area to the public, as it did then. Prairie dogs become infected at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in 2019.
Other steps you can take to protect yourself:
- Do not kill prairie dogs on your property. This can force fleas to seek out new hosts, including pets or humans.
- Treat your pet with flea-control products, and don’t allow them in areas where wild rodents live
- If you have to go to an area where wild rodents live, use insect repellent and tie your pant cuffs to your socks
- Do not handle or feed wild animals
- Do not touch sick or dead animals
- Keep rodents out of your home by removing plants and debris from exterior walls. Don’t leave food where rodents can reach it, and set traps if necessary.
- If Fleas Have Moved Into Your Home, Treat It Professionally
- If your pet has a high fever, an open wound or swollen lymph nodes, call a vet and take precautions. Infected pets can pass the disease to humans.
- Teach children about precautions, and they should tell you if they have touched a wild animal or been bitten by a flea
“In Colorado, we expect flea tests to be positive for plague during the summer months. Awareness and precautions can help prevent disease in people,” said Jennifer House, deputy state epidemiologist and public health veterinarian, said in a news release.