Plague [external link] is an infectious disease of animals and humans caused by a bacterium named Yersinia pestis. People usually get plague from being bitten by a rodent flea that is carrying the plague bacterium or by handling an infected animal. Today, modern antibiotics are effective against plague, but if an infected person is not treated promptly, the disease is likely to cause illness or death.
Prevention & Control
People should avoid contact with any species of wild rodents, especially sick or dead rodents. Dogs and cats should be confined so they cannot prey on rodents and then bring the disease home with them. Pet owners who live close to rodent populations should consult their veterinarian for flea treatment. Controlling the fleas on pets will prevent the transfer of fleas to humans. See our Preventing Animal Borne Disease Brochure (PDF) for more information.
The Public Health Department requests citizens report any unusual rodent die-offs, such as more than 10 in a couple of days, to Jefferson County Public Health at 303-271-5700.