Arizona Prairie Dog Tests Positive for Plague

Gunnison's prairie dogs. | Bruce D. Taubert

A prairie dog in Northern Arizona tested positive for plague last month, and now, Arizona wildlife officials are offering tips for preventing the spread of a potentially deadly disease.

As ABC15 reported earlier this month, the Arizona Game and Fish Department announced that the plague-infected prairie dog was found in Coconino County. The disease, which is transmitted by fleas, can infect a variety of wild animals, along with domestic animals and humans. Moisture during the summer monsoon often helps the fleas proliferate, officials said.

Game and Fish offered the following tips to prevent the spread of plague:

  • Do not handle sick or dead animals.
  • Prevent pets from roaming loose. Pets can pick up the infected fleas. De-flea pets routinely. Contact your veterinarian for specific recommendations.
  • Avoid rodent burrows and fleas.
  • Use insect repellents when visiting or working in areas where plague might be active or rodents might be present (campers, hikers, woodcutters and hunters).
  • Wear rubber gloves and other protection when cleaning and skinning wild animals.
  • Do not camp next to rodent burrows, and avoid sleeping directly on the ground.
  • In case of illness, see your physician immediately, as treatment with antibiotics is very effective.


Can we assume this is bubonic plague, not pneumonic plague?

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