Plague Kills Monkey in Denver Zoo

Danger to humans from flea-borne disease deemed minimal
By J. Kelman,  Newser User
Posted May 22, 2007 1:00 PM CDT

(Newser) – The bubonic plague has hit the Denver Zoo. An 8-year-old hooded capuchin monkey named Spanky was found dead last week, and postmortem tests confirmed that the cause was plague. The Denver Post reports that the monkey may have contracted the disease, which is usually spread by fleas, by eating the meat of an infected squirrel.

Plague is active in animals in the area around the zoo, officials said, but the risk to human visitors is extremely low. The zoo's 17 surviving capuchins received antibiotics and have been moved indoors at night as a precaution. Plague is common in Colorado, but there hasn't been an outbreak in squirrels in the central city since 1968. (Read more plague stories.)

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