Bubonic plague hits in Dilkon

By Cindy Yurth
Tséyi' Bureau

WINDOW ROCK, August 22, 2013

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T wo confirmed cases of bubonic plague in cats in the Dilkon area have put human health officials on alert.

"Rez Vet" Adrienne Ruby posted on her Facebook page last Monday that she had received back test results on two dead cats brought to her by one of her customers for necropsy. The animals tested positive for the plague, a sometimes fatal disease of the lymph nodes and respiratory system.

There have been no human cases so far this year, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Plague spreads by fleas, which generally bite infected rodents and then can bite household pets or people, so it's advisable to make sure all your pets have flea collars, Ruby said.




People who hunt and eat prairie dogs should be careful while dressing them as the disease can also be passed through an infected animal's blood. Wearing rubber gloves while skinning and dressing a game animal cuts down considerably on the chance of infection. Cooking kills the bacteria.

Symptoms in both small mammals and humans include swollen, painful lymph nodes, fever, headache and sometimes nausea. The infection can progress to the lungs, resulting in severe and sometimes fatal pneumonia.

There has been an average of one to two human cases of plague a year in Arizona since 1950. Of the 64 cases, 10 resulted in the patient's death.