Second Domestic Cat in San Miguel County Tests Positive for the Plague!

Second Domestic Cat in San Miguel County Tests Positive for the Plague!

Flea and rodent prevention imperative to protecting domestic animals. And, if your pet is experiencing symptoms of the plague, please limit your contact and take them to a veterinary clinic right away. 

If you or someone you know has been in contact with an infected rodent, wild or domestic animal and is experiencing symptoms of the plague, please contact your Primary Care Physician immediately. If you do not see a local physician, please reach out directly to San Miguel County Public Health by emailing

On Thursday, July 8,  a second domestic cat tested positive for the plague at a different local veterinarian hospital in San Miguel County. The cat was hospitalized, tested, and treated and is recovering well. No fleas were found during treatment and those who handled the cat did not experience high-risk exposures though will monitor for symptoms for the next week.

This week, there was also one possible human plague death that is currently under investigation in LaPlata County.

This second feline infection occurred in Norwood at 7,001 feet of elevation. San Miguel County Public Health will continue to work with regional veterinary clinics, local Parks and Recreation, US Forest Service, and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to mitigate disease transmission.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend taking some preventative measures to avoid infection. These include the following:

1. Reduce rodent habitat around your home, workplace, and recreational areas. Remove brush, rock piles, junk, cluttered firewood, and possible rodent food supplies, such as pet and wild animal food. Make your home and outbuildings rodent-proof.

2. Wear gloves if you are handling or skinning potentially infected animals to prevent contact between your skin and the plague bacteria. Contact your local health department if you have questions about disposal of dead animals.

3. Use repellent if you think you could be exposed to rodent fleas during activities such as camping, hiking, or working outdoors. Products containing DEET can be applied to the skin as well as clothing and products containing permethrin can be applied to clothing (always follow instructions on the label).

4. Keep fleas off of your pets by applying flea control products. Animals that roam freely are more likely to encounter plague infected animals or fleas and could bring them into homes. If your pet becomes sick, seek care from a veterinarian as soon as possible.

5. Do not allow dogs or cats that roam free in endemic areas to sleep on your bed.

“When it comes to the plague, it is rare to see this level of frequency amongst domestic cats in the same county,” said Public Health Director Grace Franklin. “We presume there is a great deal of unseen rodent activity occurring throughout the county at this time. The best way to protect your pets is to use flea prevention treatments and carefully monitor their health.”

The symptoms of the plague in both humans and animals include, but are not limited to:

• Swollen or tender lymph nodes Shortness of breath
• Pain in the abdomen or muscles
• Fever
• Chills
• Fatigue

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