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2 cats dead due to plague in Elmore County

This map shows the area where Central District Health Department officials expect plague-impacted ground squirrels to be. Residents are asked to take extra precautions in these areas for themselves, their family and their pets.
This map shows the area where Central District Health Department officials expect plague-impacted ground squirrels to be. Residents are asked to take extra precautions in these areas for themselves, their family and their pets.

A second cat has died due to plague in Elmore County, according to a Central District Health Department release.

Protective measures to avoid the plague See your doctor about any unexplained illness involving a sudden and severe fever. Keep your pets from roaming and hunting voles or other rodents. Sick pets should be examined promptly by a veterinarian, especially if they may have had contact with sick or dead rodents. Talk to your veterinarian about using an appropriate flea control product on pets. Not all products are safe for cats, dogs or children. Don’t leave pet food and water where rodents or other wild animals can access them. Clean up areas near your home where rodents can live, such as woodpiles and lots with tall grasses and weeds. Put hay, wood and compost piles as far as possible from your home.Information provided by CDHD

The first cat to succumb to plague in the county in 2016 had apparently had contact with ground squirrels before becoming ill in early June. CDHD had released information May 27 about plague spreading through the ground squirrel population in an area southeast of Boise and surrounding the Mountain Home area.

The second cat, owned by a different family living about two miles from Mountain Home, had lived both indoors and outdoors, and also had contact with ground squirrels before contracting the plague. The family and their other pets are being monitored to make sure they didn’t contract the infection, according to the release.

“We want to emphasize that plague is likely present at some level in ground squirrel populations throughout the sagebrush habitat in southern Idaho. With the known confirmed cases in these areas we want to people to be aware and be able to take appropriate steps to protect themselves and their pets from plague,” said Dr. Mark Drew, state wildlife veterinarian in a statement.

The last human plague infection in the state was recorded in 1992, and since 1940 only five human cases have been reported in Idaho. In 2015 one Idaho dog contracted the plague, but recovered.

Residents can reduce their risk of contracting the plague by avoiding contact with wild rodents, alive or dead, or their fleas.

Plague symptoms include sudden onset of fever, chills, headache, and weakness. Often there would be painful swelling of the lymph node in the groin, armpit and neck area.

Pets undergo similar symptoms, such as fever, lethargy, loss of appetite and the swelling of lymph nodes in the jaw.

If people or pets are treated quickly, the risk of fatality goes down.

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