A likely plague infected prairie dog was found at Bobcat Ridge Natural Area last weekend.

Prairie Dogs Image/Singer Ron, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Prairie Dogs
Image/Singer Ron, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The prairie dog colony where the infected animal was found has been signed, and the trail remains open. People who have visited Bobcat Ridge recently should be on the lookout for plague symptoms and consult a doctor if they become suddenly ill. Plague can be transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected flea or by close contact with an infected animal. Human plague can be fatal unless properly diagnosed and treated.

Follow these precautions to reduce the risk of human plague:
– Avoid sick or dead animals.
– Use insect repellent on skin and clothes.
– Do not camp near rodent nests or burrows.
– Hunters and trappers should wear gloves when handling dead animals.
– Do not allow dogs and cats to roam free (dogs are not allowed at Bobcat Ridge Natural Area)
– Use a flea and tick preventative on dogs and cats as recommended by your veterinarian.
– Cats are very susceptible to plague.

Consult your doctor if you become suddenly ill within 7 days of visiting a plague affected area. Typical symptoms include sudden onset of high fever, chills, headache, muscle aches and weakness. Buboes (tender and extremely swollen lymph nodes) can develop as well. Buboes usually appear in the groin, armpits, or neck regions. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea are also possible symptoms. Inform your health care provider about possible exposure. Plague is curable when diagnosed early but can be fatal unless treated promptly.

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