h/t National Park Service
(Gillette, Wyo.) According to a release from the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH), northeastern Wyoming’s prairie dog population is being attacked by the plague.
“Plague is a serious bacterial infection that can be deadly for people and for animals, including pets, if not treated promptly with antibiotics,” said Dr. Alexia Harrist, state epidemiologist and acting state health officer with WDH in the release. “The disease can be transmitted to humans from ill animals and by fleas coming from infected animals.”
The press release informs us that the first infected prairie dog was discovered in the Thunder Basin National Grassland near Converse County by the Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory.
Harris expressed her thankfulness for the rarity of human plague infections, but she does believe the risk for them are ongoing throughout the state. According to Harris, there have been six human cases of plague confirmed since 1978 in Wyoming, the most recent of which was reported in 2008.
The WDH has released the following precautions that Wyomingites should take in order to avoid contact with the disease:
• Avoid unnecessary exposure to rodents
• Avoid contact with rodent carcasses
• Avoid areas with unexplained rodent die-offs
• Use insect repellent on boots and pants when in areas that might have fleas
• Use flea control products for pets, and properly dispose of rodents pets may bring home
According to the WDH, human and animal symptoms of the plague are very similar. Symptoms can include fever, swollen/tender lymph glands, extreme exhaustion, headache, chills, coughing, difficulty breathing, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and vomiting.
There have been no cases of human infection identified thus far this year. However, if you suspect that you have been exposed to the plague and are experiencing any of the aforementioned symptoms, the WDH urges you to seek professional medical help.
Any animal that is suspected of plague infection should be taken to a veterinarian.
To read the full release from the WDH, click here.