The El Paso County Department of Health and Environment has determined that a tree squirrel has tested positive for the plague in the Colorado Springs area.
The Health Department staff has been monitoring the situation for the past two weeks in the western side of the city. The area affected is the South and West border of Garden of the Gods, including the Northeast part of Manitou Springs.
Now, Health Department staff are informing and educating residents within the affected area. They are going door to door and handing out pamphlets that contain information that cautions residents about plague. Health Department staff has also set up insecticide tubes that will aid in the control of infected fleas on the local tree squirrel population.
Plague is a bacterial disease of rodents transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected flea. In humans the symptoms are high fever, chills, headache, severe prostration, and tender or swollen lymph glands. Health Department advises residents who experience these symptoms to contact their physician.
In Colorado, the last reported human case was in a woman from Weld County, the woman is fully recovered. In El Paso County, the last reported human case occurred in 1991.
The Health Department’s program manger for animal diseases that can be transmitted to humans, Don Mydlowski, says “Do not attempt to catch, kill, feed or handle any type of squirrel, chipmunk or other wild rodent. He adds, “Keep your dogs and cats under control and do not allow them to chase wild animals. If you live in the affected area keep cats indoors. Residents within the affected area should also clear property from trash, lumber piles, and other areas where animals my live or hide.”
If you find a dead squirrel in the affected area please contact the Health Department at 578-3199.