Local News

Plague detected in eastern El Paso County

YODER, Colo. - El Paso County Public Health says a rabbit found in the Yoder area has tested positive for the plague.

The wild rabbit was found dead near a prairie dog burrow on private property.

Health specialists began investigating after receiving reports of dead prairie dogs in the area. They found that some burrows in the area didn't have any prairie dogs at all.

"Plague is cyclical and it is common for prairie dog colonies to experience high loses; 90 percent or more can die during a plague outbreak," said Environmental Health Director Tom Gonzales.

A Public Health specialist went door to door to notify area residents after plague was confirmed in the area. "Public health alert" flyers were given to each resident in the general area to raise the level of awareness and ask people to take precautions to prevent plague.

El Paso County Public Health says the plague is most commonly transmitted by fleas, and that avoiding flea exposure is key to stopping the spread of the disease.

Plague Precautions:
  • AVOID FLEAS! Protect pets with flea powder, and keep pets on a leash and out of wild rodent habitats.
  • STAY OUT of areas that wild rodents inhabit. If you enter areas with wild rodents, wear insect repellent and tuck pant cuffs into socks to prevent flea bites.
  • AVOID all contact with wild rodents, including squirrels; do not feed or handle them.
  • DO NOT TOUCH sick or dead animals.
  • PREVENT rodent infestations around your house: clear plants and materials away from outside walls, reduce access to food items.
  • TREAT known rodent sites around your home with flea powder or a suitable insecticide.

Public health says that you should never try to catch, feed, handle or exterminate prairie dogs or any type of squirrel, chipmunk, rabbit or other wild animal.

Plague is a bacterial disease transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected flea. In humans, the symptoms are high fever, chills, headache, extreme fatigue and tender or swollen lymph glands.

El Paso County's last reported human case occurred in 1991.

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