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BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — A family cat is the first confirmed case of plague in Boulder County this season.

“Because plague is most commonly transmitted by fleas, taking steps to avoid flea exposures will help prevent spread of the disease,” said Carol McInnes, Boulder County Public Health environmental health specialist.

The cat’s owner consulted a veterinarian on June 2 after the cat became ill two or three weeks after being found with a baby rabbit. The cat tested positive for plague.

Boulder County Parks and Open Space will post warning signs in the North Foothills Highway and Plateau Road neighborhood, where the incident took place.

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

Public health officials recommend these precautions to avoid 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 OUT of areas that wild rodents and rabbits inhabit. If you enter areas with rodents or rabbits, wear insect repellent containing DEET and tuck pants cuffs into socks to prevent flea bites.
  • AVOID all contact with wildlife, including rabbits and squirrels; Do not feed or handle them.
  • DO NOT TOUCH sick or dead animals.
  • PREVENT rodent infestations around your house: Clear plants and materials away from outside walls, reduce access to food items and set traps.
  • TREAT burrows on your property if you find dead rabbits or rodents with an insecticide approved by the EPA for use on fleas and follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the label.