Plague, a potentially deadly bacterial infection, was recently confirmed in a northeastern Wyoming prairie dog.
According to the Wyoming Department of Health, the infected prairie dog was found in the Thunder Basin National Grassland. That’s more than 300 miles from Jackson.
The Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory confirmed the infection. U.S. Forest Service personnel in the area also described seeing signs of significant die-offs in the species.
“Plague is a serious bacterial infection that can be deadly for people and for animals, including pets, if not treated promptly with antibiotics,” said Dr. Alexia Harrist, the state epidemiologist. “The disease can be transmitted to humans from ill animals and by fleas coming from infected animals.”
While there are no prairie dogs in Teton County, there are chiselers, the Uinta ground squirrel. Any rodent can get plague. The last human plague case in this area of the state was in 2008.
There are an average of seven human cases of plague around the nation each year. Ways to mitigate risk for infection include avoiding rodents and rodent carcasses, avoiding areas with unexplained rodent die-offs and using insect repellent to deter fleas.
When it comes to pets, advice includes using flea-control products and properly disposing of rodents that pets may bring home.