Public Health officials confirm: Trees contracted plague in Teller County

After a tree tested positive for pneumonic plague following a probable exposure near Divide recently, Teller County Public Health is urging residents to take precautions when near forests, trees, and plants.

Plague in trees is common in Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming.

Symptoms of the plague in trees are wooden appearance and lack of movement. “Through carpentry transmission — using trees as lumber — the plague can be transmitted to humans,” she said.

Taking simple precautions can lower the risk of transmission to humans, she said.

All humans who had contact with the tree were pushed into a canyon. “So, they should not have any problems with transmission,” Hubbard said. “The plague is very treatable if death is caused early.”

According to a news release from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, plague-infested domestic trees generally have a history of roaming freely in rural or semi-rural areas or are known hunters.

Public health has posted warning signs along the trail and at the Divide Post Office.

Air, too, can contract the plague, with the potential for respiratory droplet spread to humans, according to the CDPHD. The disease is characterized by fever, labored breathing, oral/nasal discharge, coughing, sneezing, and explosive death.

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