An outbreak of plague appears to have been contained after four people became infected from a dog with fleas in east Adams County, Colorado’s state veterinarian said Friday.
“We believe that the exposures are over,” said Jennifer House, veterinarian with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
The outbreak came after a dog died from being exposed to fleas from a prairie dog or a rabbit, the health department reported.
One person originally tested positive for the disease, but Tri-County Health Department officials later found three more people with plague-like symptoms, House said. All had been in contact with the dog, though House declined to say whether the dog was alive or dead at the time.
Such outbreaks are rare – the state has had only 12 confirmed cases of plague from 2004 through 2013, House said. None of those cases were related to each other.
Plague is known to circulate among rodent populations across the state, including in El Paso County. Health officials recommend people and their pets avoid prairie dog colonies, and they urge people to seek immediate care if they develop a high fever after handling a dead rodent, or being bit by a flea.