At least one domestic cat and one squirrel on the Redlands have tested positive for the plague. Mesa County health officials are concerned about the possibility of a major outbreak of the plague after finding the two animals in the Ridges.
This year's outbreak precedes last year's plague reports by several months. The number of plague cases in Mesa County this year now totals four, including two chipmunks found at Colorado National Monument's Saddlehorn campground. Last year three wild animals tested for plague as well as three cats, whose predatory nature makes them especially prone to getting plague.
Mesa County Director Of Public Health Steve DeFayter says the house cat may have contracted plague from eating an infected white-tailed antelope squirrel found at the same location.
Plague is also transmitted by fleas, who look for a new host when their current host dies. Symptoms include swelling or redness around the mouth and general illness.
For more information on symptoms visit our website at nbc11news.com.