El Paso County, CO—On September 14, 2012, El Paso County Public Health’s lab tested a wild rabbit found on the northeast side of Colorado Springs and confirmed the animal had plague. The area where the rabbit was found is East of Powers Boulevard near the St. Francis Medical Center/Hospital.
In response, Public Health infectious disease experts conducted an investigation to determine potential human exposures and to assess the general area for additional plague concerns. The people exposed have been identified and have been given antibiotics to prevent plague from developing. “Plague health alert” flyers will be provided to residents and signs will be posted in the general area to raise the level of awareness and ask people to take precautions to prevent plague. Public Health will continue to monitor plague activity in the area and maintain the signage as appropriate.
If you’ve had contact with a wild animal, call Public Health at (719) 339-3230. For general information visit our website: www.elpasocountyhealth.org or call (719) 578-3199 during business hours.
Plague is a bacterial disease transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected flea. In humans, the symptoms are high fever, chills, headache, extreme fatigue and tender or swollen lymph glands. Public Health advises residents who experience these symptoms to contact their physician. El Paso County’s last reported human case occurred in 1991.
The public shouldn’t attempt to catch, feed, handle or exterminate prairie dogs or any type of squirrel, chipmunk, rabbit or other wild animal. Also, keep your dogs on leashes and cats inside and do not allow them to chase wild animals. If you live in the affected area, it is especially important to keep cats indoors, because they are more vulnerable to plague than dogs. Residents within the affected area should also clear property of trash, lumber piles, and other areas where animals my live or hide. Talk with your veterinarian about treating your pets for fleas.
Plague is endemic in El Paso County and precautions to prevent plague should always be taken. Additional information on plague can be found at www.elpasocountyhealth.org.