Coronavirus Bats, Murder Hornets, and as if 2020 wasn’t bad enough now a squirrel in Colorado has tested positive for the bubonic plague.
As if the novel coronavirus isn’t enough to worry about, a disease that caused the Black Death and killed some 50 million people in the 14th century has raised its ugly head again, according to a report.
Officials in China are on high alert after a case of bubonic plague was discovered in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, the BBC reported.
A herdsman in the city of Bayannur — about 560 miles northwest of Beijing — is in stable condition under quarantine, while a second suspected case involving a 15-year-old is being investigated, according to the outlet, which cited local media.
It is unclear how or why the herdsman might have become infected, according to the BBC, which reported that the teen had apparently been in contact with a marmot hunted by a dog.
Authorities have imposed a Level 3 alert until the end of the year. It forbids the hunting and eating of animals that could carry the plague and calls on people to report suspected cases.
Even though the bubonic plague, which is caused by a bacterial infection, was once the most feared disease on Earth, it can now be easily treated with antibiotics.
It was responsible for the Black Death, which killed about 50 million people across Africa, Asia, and Europe during the 14th century.
According to health officials, the squirrel is the first case of plague in the Town of Morrison, Jefferson County, which is about 17 miles southwest of Denver.
“Plague is an infectious disease caused by the bacteria Yersinia pestis, and can be contracted by humans and household animals,” public health officials wrote. However, if proper precautions are taken, the risk of getting a plague is “extremely low,” they said.
Humans can get infected through bites from infected fleas or animals.
“Cats are highly susceptible to plague and may die if not treated promptly with antibiotics. Cats can contract plague from flea bites, a rodent scratch/bite or ingestion of a rodent. Dogs are not as susceptible to plague; however, they may pick up and carry plague-infected rodent fleas,” officials wrote.
The public health department advised pet owners to consult a veterinarian if they suspect their pet is ill. Also, pet owners living near wildlife habitats, such as prairie dog colonies, should ask their veterinarian about flea control.
Symptoms of plague can include high fever, chills, headache, and nausea, among other signs, occurring within a week of exposure. However, plague can be treated with antibiotics upon early diagnosis.
Anyone experiencing these symptoms should consult a physician.
Jefferson County Public Health recommends the following precautions to protect against the plague:
- Eliminate all sources of food, shelter and access for wild animals around the home.
- Do not feed wild animals.
- Maintain a litter- and trash-free yard to reduce wild animal habitats.
- People and pets should avoid contact with sick or dead wild animals and rodents.
- Use caution when handling sick pets. Have sick pets examined by a veterinarian.
- Consult with your veterinarian about flea and tick control for your pets.
- Keep pets from roaming freely outside the home where they may prey on wild animals and bring the disease home with them.