Second case of human plague reported in Colorado

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DENVER (KDVR) — A second case of human plague was reported on Sept. 3 to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. The CDPHE says the person is located in a rural county in Colorado.

The first case was a resident in southwest Colorado and reported earlier this summer. The CDPHE says the cases are not related but both parties had contact with sick animals; a cat and a squirrel.

Neither of the infected persons is believed to have transmitted the disease to another human being or animal. According to the CDPHE, these are the first cases of human plague reported since 2015. There have been a total of 14 cases in the state over the past 10 years.

Broomfield, Jefferson and Adams counties reported plague bacteria infected rodents earlier in the year. Elbert County reported a plague bacteria infected cat, according to CDPHE.

Although plague bacteria is common this time of year, the CDPHE reminds people and pet owners to be cautious:

  • Do not directly handle any wildlife.
  • Keep pets away from wildlife, especially dead rodents and rabbits.
  • Don’t let dogs or cats hunt prairie dogs, squirrels, voles, other rodents, or rabbits.
  • Don’t allow pets to roam freely.
  • Treat all pets for fleas according to a veterinarian’s advice.
  • If your pet develops a sudden illness after contact with wildlife call a veterinarian immediately.
  • Do not feed wildlife — this attracts them to your property, brings them in close contact, and increases the risk of disease transmission.
  • Do not attempt to remove or kill prairie dogs. This may increase the risk of plague for you and your domestic animals. 
  • Be aware of rodent and rabbit populations in your area, and report sudden die-offs or multiple dead animals to your local health department.

The CDPHE recommends avoiding areas where multiple rodents and rabbits have died as it can be spread by fleas that have bitten the infected dead animal.

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