A squirrel found in the small town of Morrison, Colorado, tested positive for bubonic plague on Saturday, county health officials reported.
Jefferson County health officials said in a statement Sunday that the squirrel is the "first case of plague in the county" and urged residents to take necessary steps to avoid contracting the disease.
"On Saturday, July 11, 2020, a squirrel found in the Town of Morrison tested positive for bubonic plague. Plague is an infectious disease caused by the bacteria Yersinia pestis, and can be contracted by humans and household animals if proper precautions are not taken," the statement reads.
The county recommended several precautions to protect against the bubonic plague, including eliminating sources of food and shelter for wild animals, avoiding sick or dead wild animals, and consulting a vet about flea and tick control for pets.
County officials also warned that humans may be infected by the plague "through bites from infected fleas, a cough from an infected animal, or through direct contact with blood or tissues of infected animals."
Dogs and cats are both susceptible to the plague as well, the county reported.
"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," health officials said.