Written byShalini Ojha
A squirrel is said to have been infected with Bubonic plague, another illness whose outbreak started in China.
The squirrel tested positive on July 11 in Morrison, prompting the Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) department to issue an alert.
The rare but serious disease is caused by the Yersinia pestis bacterium. It is transmitted through fleas, that get infected mainly by rodents.
The hosts of this disease are usually marmots, which live in rural areas.
This plague's outbreak initially happened in the Middle Ages. Named "Black Death," the disease had killed an estimated 50 million people in Europe alone.
After the first-ever case was reported, JCPH told the public to take necessary precautions, while adding that this disease can infect both humans and animals.
The advisory pointed out that domesticated animals are vulnerable as well. The health department said cats are at a higher risk and can die, if not treated with antibiotics on time.
They can contract the infection from flea bites.
The health department also said dogs are not as susceptible but they can carry plague-infected rodent fleas. Pet owners were asked to immediately rush to veterinarians if their pets fell sick or showed symptoms of the disease.
Further, the department suggested removing food and shelter for wild animals.
The authorities are convinced that there could be more animals who would have been infected.
To note, before a squirrel tested positive, a 15-year-old unidentified boy died of the plague in Mongolia this week.
According to Daily Mail, the deceased ate marmot meat with two of his friends. He fell sick and died three days after consuming the meat. Post his death, a contact tracing operation was launched.
A lockdown was also enforced in at least five districts.
On the outbreak, the Mongolian Health Ministry said mountainous Altai regions of China and Russia are at risk. A senior official warned against hunting marmots.
"We urge you to pay special attention to the fact that the pulmonary form of the disease is just as rapid as coronavirus infection - but it is a disease that can kill people very quickly," an official said.
The reports related to the plague prompted the World Health Organization (WHO) to label it as a re-emerging disease. Since its outbreak in October 1347, none of the diseases have been as lethal as "Black Death."
Though some 1,000-2,000 cases are reported annually, experts have advised against taking the threat lightly especially at a time when coronavirus has ripped apart continents.
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