A prairie dog in northeast Wyoming was recently confirmed to have the deadly plague infection, according to a release from the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH).
The infected animal was discovered in the Converse County area of the Thunder Basin National Grassland. The disease can be transmitted to humans from ill animals and by fleas from infected animals.
The disease is rare in humans, but WDH epidemiologist Dr. Alexia Harrist said the risk for plague probably exists all across Wyoming. Harrist says the disease can be deadly for both people and pets if it is not treated quickly with antibiotics.
Symptoms in people include fever, swollen and tender lymph glands, extreme exhaustion, headache, chills, coughing, difficulty breathing, abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Symptoms in animals include enlarged lymph glands, swelling of the face, neck or around the ears, fever, chills, lack of energy, coughing, vomiting, diarrhea and dehydration.
Health officials are urging people to take the following precautions:
–Avoid unnecessary exposure to rodents and rodent carcasses
–Avoid areas with large, unexplained rodent die-offs
–Use insect repellant on boots and pants when in areas that might have fleas
–Use flea control for pets, and properly dispose of rodents that pets may bring home