Fleas Bring Plague To Arizona

Fleas Bring Plague To Arizona

Fleas carrying Plague are taking a nasty bite out of two Arizona communities. Officials in Navajo and Coconino counties are warning people to take precautions to reduce their risk of exposure to this disease.

From AzCentral.com:

Officials in a second part of Arizona have confirmed that fleas in the area tested positive for plague, an infectious disease infamous for killing millions of Europeans in the Middle Ages.

Navajo County Public Health officials confirmed Friday that fleas collected in the Taylor area have the disease. 

Last week, the Coconino County Public Health Services District confirmed that fleas found on prairie dogs in the Red Lake area had the disease. 

According AzFamily.com, “The disease can be transmitted to humans and other animals by the bite of an infected flea or by direct contact with an infected animal.”

KTAR-News added:

 “The plague is endemic to northern Arizona and officials find either infected rodents or fleas nearly every year. The disease can survive long enough to be transmitted because of the cooler temperatures. It would not survive in hotter places, such as Phoenix.”

Fox10 in Phoenix listed several tips to help Arizonans avoid their risk to exposure including:

  • Do not handle sick or dead animals
  • Prevent pets from roaming loose
  • De-flea pets routinely
  • Avoid rodent burrows and fleas
  • Use insect repellents, when visiting or working in areas where the Plague might be active or rodents might be present
  • Wear rubber gloves and other protecting when cleaning and skinning wild animals
  • Do not camp next to rodent burrows, and avoid sleeping directly on the ground

For those people who believe they may have been infected, health officials suggest seeing a doctor right away. The symptoms of Plague appear between two and six days following exposure and KPNX-TV says those symptoms can include,

  • fever, chills, headache
  • weakness
  • muscle pain
  • swollen lymph glands in the groin, armpits or limbs.

Despite killing more than 20 million people in about five years back in the 14th century, health officials say the disease today is curable with proper antibiotic therapy if diagnosed and treated early.

(Originally published by AzHHA)

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