Jul 21 2014

Prairie Dog Passes The Plague on to Residents in Colorado

Prairie dogs are adorable little critters seen in many parts of the United States, usually living in the wild, but are sometimes kept as pets.  They are a type of ground squirrel that lives in the ground, but get the title of dog because their habitat and warning call sound much like the bark of a dog.  They spend their days burrowing, gathering food and more recently, carrying the plague.

prairie dogs kissing

The pneumonic plague is the most deadly variation of the disease, and the owner of a prairie dog in Colorado was diagnosed with it earlier this month.  He was the first report of the disease in the area in over ten years.

The origin of the plague was traced back to his dear pet rodent.  Suspicions were raised when the victim’s prairie dog dropped dead shortly after his diagnosis.

Not only was the owner of the dog affected by the spread, but also four other residents in the area, creating the first cluster of the disease since the beginning of the 20th century.

Though the disease is one of the most malignant of any to humanity, officials guarantee that they have the outbreak under control.

caution plague

“They all had mild symptoms, were treated with appropriate antibiotics, recovered and are no longer contagious,” said Mark Sally of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Prairie dogs carry fleas, and upon the death of one, the fleas are desperate to find a new host.  They travel to from one prairie dog to another, and in some cases, if a dog is kept as a pet, to their owner.  The plague is very contagious and spreads very quickly.

Though prairie dogs may seem cute and harmless, the truth is that they are just about as dangerous as any other rodent.  It is highly recommended to use extreme caution if taking any rodent into your home as a pet.


praire-dog-plague-coloradothe plague

four dogs