July 19, 2022
Plague detected in prairie dog in La Plata County area
The plague was found in a prairie dog in the Hesperus/Breen area of La Plata County. The first confirmed case of the year.
KSUT Tribal Radio | By Sarah Flower
with Liane Jollon, executive director San Juan Basin Public Health
The bacteria which causes plague was detected in the Breen area on Friday, (July 22). San Juan Basin Public Health Department says that fleas from the prairie dog colony have been collected and sent to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for further testing. The results of those tests are not available yet. The department says So far, there is no known human exposure to the prairie dog, its colony or any fleas in the area.
The plague is not uncommon in rodent animals in southwest Colorado. It can be transmitted to humans by close contact and bites of the infected fleas. Around this time last year a child died in La Plata County due to the plague, making this years find a little more heightened. Liane Jollon, the executive director of San Juan Basin Pubic Health department hopes that that tragedy is not repeated.
We also do reminders to the healthcare community that we have had plague activity in our community. So just be aware as people come in and present with symptoms. So this is something that is unfortunately not as uncommon as we would like it to be. And on occasion, we do have some very, very tragic outcomes like we did last year.
The health department says tips for preventing contact with animal borne illnesses include to reduce rodent habitat around your home workplaces or recreational areas. They advise to wear gloves if you're handling or skinning potentially infected animals to prevent contact between your skin and the plague bacteria. They also advise to keep fleas off your pets by applying flea control products. animals that roam freely are more likely to come in contact with plague infected animals or fleas and could bring them into the homes reporting for KSUT Tribal Radio. I'm Sarah flower
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The health department says tips for preventing contact with animal-borne illnesses include:
- Reduce rodent habitat around your home, work place, and recreational areas. Remove brush, rock piles, junk, cluttered firewood, and possible rodent food supplies, such as pet and wild animal food.
- Make your home and outbuildings rodent-proof.
- Wear gloves if you are handling or skinning potentially infected animals to prevent contact between your skin and the plague bacteria. Contact your local health department if you have questions about disposal of dead animals.
- Use repellent if you think you could be exposed to rodent fleas during activities such as camping, hiking, or working outdoors. Products containing DEET can be applied to the skin as well as clothing and products containing permethrin can be applied to clothing.
- Keep fleas off of your pets by applying flea control products. Animals that roam freely are more likely to come in contact with plague-infected animals or fleas and could bring them into homes. If your pet becomes sick, seek care from a veterinarian as soon as possible.
- Do not allow dogs or cats that roam free in endemic areas to sleep on your bed.
- Be sure your children are aware of these precautions and know to tell an adult if they have had contact with a wild animal.
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