|Plague advisory for hunters|
Nov 21, 2007
Plague death provides a reminder to hunters:
The Arizona Department of Health Services has advised that a biologist working for the Grand Canyon National Park died of plague in early November. Just prior to his death, this biologist had dissected a radio-collared mountain lion to determine the animal’s cause of death. The biologist did not use gloves or any other form of personal protection during the dissection.
Earlier this year, a woman in Apache Country contracted Arizona’s first case of plague since the year 2000. The woman became ill in early September after being bitten by fleas at her home in northern Arizona.
In addition to this known human case of the plague, the disease has been detected in prairie dog colonies near Flagstaff.
Arizona Game and Fish Department officials say that although the risk of contracting plague or other diseases from handling wild animals is remote, a risk does exist. Please take the following precautions:
Health officials said plague is a treatable disease and responds to appropriate antibiotic therapy. Early diagnosis is the key to effective treatment.
Persons displaying symptoms of plague (high fever, chills, weakness, headache, nausea, and frequently a painful, enlarged lymph node in the groin area or armpit) should seek immediate medical attention, especially if they have recently harvested a plague reservoir species or have been exposed to fleas, rodents, squirrels, rabbits, or any sick wildlife in areas where plague may be active.
It is especially important to notify the attending physician that such contact has occurred and that exposure to plague or other zoonotic disease agents should be considered as a potential source of illness.
This disease is more evident when it occurs with prairie dog colonies, but can affect all rodent populations.