Colorado Health Officials Confirm Squirrel Tests Positive for Bubonic Plague

A squirrel has been discovered with the plague, because of course one has.

For everyone alive today, it is safe to say that 2020 will probably be the year that we will look back upon as the absolute worst year on record. Whether it is because of political divisions, COVID-19 or the loss of beloved celebrities, this year has been one for the books.

So, of course a squirrel carrying the bubonic plague was just discovered in Colorado. Would you expect anything less from the crazy news cycle that has us trapped?

The news was unveiled early this week in a press release from the Jefferson County Public Health department (JCPH). The infected rodent was found in the town of Morrison on July 11.

The animal subsequently tested positive for the bacteria Yersina pestis, aka: bubonic plague. If you are up on your history, you know that this was the bacteria that caused the "black death" pandemic in Europe back in 1300s that killed literally millions of people. Before you panic too much, they did not have the advancements of modern medicine back then. It is also worth noting that bubonic plague never really went away, it just became less common. It is also more treatable with modern science. The odds of humans catching it today are also extremely low, however your pet dogs and cats are at a high risk. The JCPH says you should be most concerned about cats.

"Cats are highly susceptible to plague and may die if not treated properly with antibiotics," the press release reads. "Cats can contract plague from flea bites, a rodent scratch/bite or ingestion of a rodent."

While the JCPH says dogs are less of a risk, the potential for them to contract the plague is still there. The Department is advising pet owners to consult their veterinarian about flea treatment options because that is the way it usually spreads. Anyone living in Jefferson County, especially near prairie dog colonies should be wary of their pet's activities outdoors.

In the meantime, the JCPH also recommends using caution in handling animals that appear to be sick. They also say you should keep your yard free of trash that may attract wildlife and to cease feeding wild animals. Symptoms to look for in humans include swollen lymph nodes, nausea, pain, chills and a fever. The good news is that the plague is treatable with antibiotics.

We will just chalk this up as one more thing to be cautious about. One thing is for certain, 2020 cannot end soon enough!

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