A dog was confirmed positive for the plague following probable exposure near a hiking trail in Colorado.
According to public health officials, the dog may have been exposed near the Divide Trail Loop at Hayden Divide Park in Teller County.
Plague is caused by the bacteria Yersinia pestis, which is transmitted by the bite of an infected flea or animals. Anyone exposed to infected fleas or wild animals in impacted areas may be at risk.
Plague is treatable with antibiotics if caught early with symptoms including sudden fever, headache, chills, weakness, and tender, painful lymph nodes.
The disease is most commonly found during summer months among prairie dogs, squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks, and other wild rodents.
Hayden Divide Park is located at the junction of Highway 24 and Highway 67 South in Divide, just west of Colorado Springs. The Divide Trail Loop is 2.5 miles in length, offering spectacular views of Raspberry Mountain.
The public health department urges residents to take the following precautions to prevent possible exposure to the plague:
- Avoid fleas. Protect humans with insect/flea repellent and animals with a veterinary-approved flea treatment.
- Do not directly handle any wildlife.
- Keep pets on a leash—don't allow them to roam freely.
- Keep pets away from wildlife, especially dead rodents and rabbits.
- Don’t let dogs or cats hunt prairie dogs, other rodents, or rabbits.
- Do not feed wildlife—this attracts them to your property, brings them in close contact, and increases the risk of disease transmission.
- See a physician if you become ill with a high fever and/or swollen lymph nodes. Plague is a treatable illness.
- Contact a veterinarian immediately if your pet or livestock animals become ill with a high fever and/or an abscess or swollen lymph nodes. Mammals with plague can transmit the illness to humans.
- Be aware of rodent and rabbit populations in your area and report sudden die-offs or multiple dead animals to El Paso County Public Health at (719) 578-3220 or to Teller County Public Health and Environment at (719) 687-6416.
For more information, please visit cdc.gov/plague.