Boulder County Public Health is warning residents that a cat living in the northern part of Boulder tested positive for the plague earlier this month.
The cat's owners became worried after it was ill for two to three weeks after being found with a baby rabbit. It was tested by a veterinarian on June 2 and tested positive for the disease.
This is the first confirmed case of the disease that ravaged through most of Europe during the 14th century and officials are reminding residents how to protect themselves and their furry companion.
"Because plague is most common transmitted by fleas, taking steps to avoid flea exposure will help prevent spread of the disease," said Carol McInnes, a specialist with the county health department.
Symptoms of the disease include high fever, extreme fatigue and painful swollen lymph nodes in both pets and humans. If any these symptoms are observed seek medical attention or a veterinarian immediately.
Officials are encouraging pet owners to keep their four-legged friends inside the home to reduce the chances of them contracting an animal, or flea whose infected with the disease.
In rare circumstances the disease can be transmitted from cats to humans. Additionally infected small mammals such as rabbits, prairie dogs and other rodents can transmit the disease if they bite a human, officials said.
Public health officials have several tips to reduce the likelihood of being exposed to the disease:
- 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 pant 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 manufacturers instructions label.
Boulder County Parks and Open Space will be placing warning signs around the neighborhood near North Foothills Highway and Plateau Road.
For more information about the plague click here.