MORRISON, Colo. (WJW)– A squirrel in Colorado tested positive for the bubonic plague on Saturday, Jefferson County Public Health said in a news release on Sunday. It’s the first case of plague in that county.
The squirrel was in Morrison, which is about 18 miles southwest of Denver.
“Plague is an infectious disease caused by the bacteria Yersinia pestis, and can be contracted by humans and household animals if proper precautions are not taken,” Jefferson County Public Health said.
Plague, also referred to as the Black Death, is infamous for killing millions of people in Europe during the Middle Ages, but it can be treated with modern antibiotics.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, humans usually get plague after a bite from a flea carrying the bacterium or by handling an infected animal.
Symptoms of plague include sudden onset of high fever, chills, headache, nausea and extreme pain and swelling of lymph nodes. Symptoms typically occur within two to seven days after exposure.
Health authorities in China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region are investigating a suspected case of bubonic plague. They ordered residents not to hunt small animals.