DENVER (KDVR) — A domestic animal near Red Feather Lakes in Larimer County has tested positive for the plague, according to a release from Larimer County.

The Larimer County Department of Health and Environment said infectious disease experts investigated potential human exposures and other plague concerns in the area. They were notified of the positive test on Wednesday.

The people known to have been exposed to the animal were recommended antibiotic treatment to prevent plague from developing, LCDHE said. Signs will be posted in the area and neighbors will be notified on NextDoor about what precautions to take.

Where is plague found in Colorado?

Plague is a bacterial disease carried by fleas, found most often in Colorado in ground squirrels, chipmunks and prairie dogs. Humans can spread the disease to each other through respiratory droplets, but most human plague cases come directly from fleas. Several antibiotics treat the disease if contracted by humans.

Human cases of plague are rare. There were 70 cases of plague reported in humans in Colorado between 2005 and 2021.

Larimer County’s last reported human case of the plague occurred back in 2015, but LCDHE is still advising residents to contact their physician immediately if they experience symptoms.

Symptoms of plague include:

  • High fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Tender or swollen lymph glands

LCDHE suggests always taking the following precautions to prevent plague:

  • The public shouldn’t attempt to catch, feed, handle or exterminate prairie dogs or any type of squirrel, chipmunk, rabbit or other wild animal.
  • Pet owners should check with their veterinarian regarding tick and flea control for their pets. Sick pets should be examined promptly by a veterinarian.
  • Residents should also clear property of trash, lumber piles and other areas where rodents and animals may live or hide.
  • Report rodent die-offs to the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment at 970-498-6775.

LCDHE did not specify what kind of domestic animal had tested positive for plague but said officials would continue to monitor plague activity in the area.