Earlier this year there were a large number of Prairie dogs that had passed away in the Doney Park area of Flagstaff, Az. Public health services got involved and ran tests to determine the cause. Upon review of the test results it was determined that the fleas found on the Prairie dogs were carrying the bacteria that caused the Plague.
The Plague was responsible for the decimation of more than half of the population in Europe in the mid 14th century. It has popped up throughout the centuries afflicting the disease along its path. It has been determined that rats are a common denominator causing the spread of this disease. They are carriers of the bacterial infection which is passed along to fleas who have bitten them. The fleas transmit the bacteria and the host becomes infected.
To this day rats still carry this disease in various populations across the world. As a modern society we are not finding the same degree of illness and deaths tied to this Plague as has been the case in the past. Documented cases run between 1,000 to 2,000 a year. There are many reasons why we are able to keep it at bay. The invention of antibiotics and the degree of hygiene we practice in this day and age are a remarkable advantage in combating the Plague.
Since fleas transmit the plague it is very important you take preventative measures to protect your pets:
- Keep your environment clean. Make it unappealing for rodents.
- If you see any dead animals report them to your local shelter or public health department.
- Use a non-toxic insect repellent to keep fleas at bay.
- Keep your pet safe with regular natural flea and tick control treatments.
Keep an eye out for signs of infection:
- Painful, swollen lymph nodes that may abscess
- Fever and inflammation
- Vomiting, diarrhea and dehydration
- Anorexia and visible weight loss
- Enlarged tonsils, swelling in the head and neck area
To date, there are not any known problems here in the valley. AzCentral reports that, “Even if the disease runs rampant in rodents, it’s not a huge threat to humans, because living conditions are more sanitary today than they were in the Middle Ages. Humans rarely come into contact with rats, unlike centuries ago, when the creatures were a large part of living conditions.”