Plague is widespread in the western United States. Plague was first seen in Colorado in San Miguel County on the Western Slope in 1941 and appeared in several Front Range locations in 1943. Plague is now firmly established and often detected in rock squirrels, prairie dogs, and other species of ground squirrels and chipmunks. In El Paso County, it is also seen in tree squirrels, common in city parks and Front Range residential areas.
What to look for: If you notice an unusual number of dead wild rodents in your area, contact El Paso County Public Health at (719) 578-3199 and select the option for Environmental Health. Do not handle sick or dead animals.
What you can do: Because plague is regularly found among wild rodents in El Paso County, it is important to always follow these precautions:
- Do not feed or touch wild animals, such as prairie dogs, rabbits, chipmunks, squirrels, and other rodents. Do not touch sick or dead animals.
- Make sure your residence is as rodent-proof as possible.
- Before and while hiking, wear insect repellent to protect from fleas.
- Protect pets with appropriate flea control - consult your veterinarian.
- Keep pets and children away from wild animals.