Navajo and Apache County Public Health Officials Issue Joint Plague Health Advisory
Navajo County,AZ - September 20, 2012 —Navajo and Apache County Public Health officials have jointly issued a Health Advisory regarding Plague found in dead prairie dogs in Apache County. The prairie dogs were found ten miles east of the Navajo/Apache county line near mile post 362 on state route 61 and tests conducted at a Northern Arizona University laboratory returned positive for Plague.
Area residents have been notified of the situation and the prairie dog burrows have been dusted with insecticide to kill fleas. The area will be closely monitored to determine if further action is required.
The positive test is the first evidence of Plague activity reported in Apache County this year. Although this is the only location in Apache County where Plague has been found this year, the disease may be more widespread. The public is urged to take precautions to reduce the risk of exposure to this serious disease.
Plague is a disease of rodents and rabbits, and sometimes, of the predators that feed upon these animals. The disease can be transmitted to humans and other animals by the bite of an infected flea, or by direct contact with an infected animal. The disease is curable with proper antibiotic therapy if diagnosed and treated early.
Symptoms in humans generally appear within two to six days following exposure and include: fever, chills, weakness, muscle pain, and swollen lymph glands (called “buboes”) in the groin, armpits, or limbs. The disease can become systemic (spreading throughout the bloodstream) and/or pneumonic (affecting the lungs).
Persons living, hunting, working, camping or visiting in areas where Plague and /or rodents are known to be present are urged to take the following precautions to reduce their risk of exposure:
- DO NOT HANDLE SICK OR DEAD ANIMALS.
- HUNTERS SHOULD WEAR RUBBER GLOVES and other protection when cleaning and skinning wild animals. Hunters who skin animals and come into contact with tissue or body fluids of an infected animal may become infected.
- BE AWARE THAT CATS ARE HIGHLY SUSCEPTIBLE TO PLAGUE. While cats can get sick from a variety of illnesses, a sick cat (especially one allowed to run at large outside) should receive care by a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment to reduce human exposure to Plague.
- USE INSECT REPELLENT CONTAINING DEET when visiting or working in areas where Plague might be active or rodents might be present (Woodcutters, Hunters, Campers, and Hikers).
- PREVENT PETS FROM ROAMING LOOSE. Pets can pick up the infected fleas of wild animals, and then pass the fleas to their human owner, which is one of the common ways for humans to contact Plague. Cats with Plague can also pass the disease to humans directly through respiratory droplets.
- DE-FLEA PETS ROUTINELY. Contact your veterinarian for specific details.
- AVOID EXPOSURE TO RODENT BURROWS AND FLEAS.
- IN CASE OF ILLNESS (SYMPTOMS PREVIOUSLY DESCRIBED), SEE YOUR PHYSICIAN IMMEDIATELY.
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