Imagine getting a knock on your door from a health official who’s there to warn you about the plague. That’s exactly what happened in Colorado Springs on Monday, after a deer was to be infected with the disease.
“I enjoy the deer. I’m glad they come in the yard. I hate to see something happen to them. It would be nice to know what can be done to protect the deer,” said Kent Vance, who’s lived in the Pleasant Valley neighborhood for most his life.
Health experts say it’s extremely rare for a deer to get the plague.
Despite that, for the first time in El Paso County, a deer that was found in Pleasant Valley has tested positive for the disease.
The deer was euthanized last week.
“The deer was walking around the area sick. What happens is the plague hits the eyes of the deer. The deer was blind, so it was running into things, stumbling around. People got concerned and called the Division of Wildlife,” Deputy Director of El Paso County Health Department, Tom Gonzalez said.
“I’m really concerned, and when I hear that the teenager in Fort Collins died of the plague, that’s an even bigger concern,” Vance said.
Just weeks ago, Taylor Gaes of Fort Collins died of plague the day after his 16th birthday.
“The symptoms are very high fever, flu-like, lethargic. So folks might think they have the flu or the common cold,” said Gonzalez.
“It could spread quickly. I think we need to be educated as to what we need to do to prevent it,” Maggie Ramos of Pleasant Valley said.
That’s exactly why health officials are passing out fliers. They explain that the plague is a bacterial disease. It spread through infected fleas or by handling an infected animal.
That’s also why so many people are more worried for their pets.
“They’re going to be lethargic, they’re going to act different and have a fever, and that’s when you want to seek guidance from your veterinarian,” Gonzalez said.
People can also keep their eye out for warning signs.
If you see a sudden die-off of squirrels, rabbits or other wild animals, you should contact the health department.
Here’s a list of other precautions you can take:
Protect pets with flea powder
Avoid all contact with wild animals
Prevent rodent infestations
Be sure to treat rodent sites with rat poison and flea powder
If you have any questions, call the El Paso County Health Department at 719-578-3199