A second cat has likely died from the plague in Elmore County, according to the Central District Health Department.
This is the second Elmore County cat within the last week believed to have died in connection with the bacterial infection.
"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.
Plague is transmitted through the bites of infected fleas and can cause serious illness or death with regards to people and pets, if not treated quickly.
Common rodents that can become infected include ground squirrels, rats, voles, and mice. Tree squirrels in Idaho are not known to carry plague.
The CDHD has listed the following steps and prevention techniques for plague.
--To prevent plague in humans:
See your doctor immediately about any unexplained illness with a severe fever if you have been in the affected area.
Avoid picking up or touching dead animals; wear gloves if you must handle dead animals
Do not let pets sleep in bed with you. This has been shown to increase your risk of getting plague.
Clean up areas near the house where rodents could live, such as woodpiles, brush piles, junk and abandoned vehicles.
Put hay, wood, and compost piles as far as possible from your home.
· Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
· Use DEET on clothing in accordance with label instructions or wear clothing pre-treated with permethrin.
· Use DEET on exposed skin, in accordance with label instructions.
Plague prevention in pets:
Do not let your pets hunt or roam in the affected area.
Talk to your veterinarian about using an appropriate flea control product on your pets.
Sick pets should be examined promptly by a veterinarian.
Don’t leave your pet’s food and water where rodents can get to it.
--Symptoms of Plague
Symptoms of plague in humans include sudden onset of fever, chills, headache, and weakness. In most cases there is a painful swelling of the lymph node in the groin, armpit or neck areas. Plague symptoms in cats and dogs are fever, lethargy, and loss of appetite. There may be a swelling in the lymph node under the jaw. With prompt diagnosis and appropriate antibiotic treatment, the fatality rate in people and pets can be greatly reduced. Physicians who suspect plague should promptly report it to their local public health district.
Among pets, cats are highly susceptible to plague and may be an indicator that plague is in the area. If plague is suspected, any type of animal or human should be treated by a health professional immediately.