Plague taking toll on Great Plains prairie dogs

I’m more worried about individuals who have head lice which can also spread the plague bacteriums. Click here and here to read some recent articles regarding the plague or an excerpt below. School district policies have become lax over the years and tell parents that head lice don’t spread disease which is an inaccurate statement because lice are an arthropod and all arthropods have the ability to spread disease. These same school district policies allow students to be sent home, treated for lice and return to school the next day without any interaction with the health authorities. Individuals infected with lice should have to consult with their family doctor before being allowed to return to school.

 

“Plague is a dangerous disease,” said Keim. “But there are lots of drugs that can work on plague. It’s very treatable.”

Fewer people realize the same bacteria live on, even today.

The Southwest grew into a hot spot for the plague in this country, Keim said, because the pathogen became endemic among prairie dogs, the native rodents whose colonies dot the high plateaus.

That’s where NAU researchers find the plague today.

When the researchers and students plan field trips to a potentially infected prairie-dog colony, they undergo training about how to protect themselves from flea bites or dead rodents. They are examined before the trip and their health monitored after.

“We’ve never had a single person come down with the plague,” Keim said.

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